Thursday, January 25, 2018

Power of Prayer

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 NASB

"The key to this home, this heart of God. is prayer." Foster

Prayer, by definition,  is an intercession, petition, or supplication. Scripture contains many prayers of faithful leaders and followers of God, prayers for healing, direction, peace, strength, forgiveness, wisdom, security, provision. Multiple passages in the Bible reveal Jesus alone in prayer and praying for others. Prayer comes from the lips of doubters and those in need, from hearts frozen with fear and unbelievers reborn, from the sick and weary, from those in desperate situations, from sinners like me. Believers are called to prayer, to never stop praying (1 Thessalonians 5:17), to pray in the Spirit, to pray with perseverance, to pray for each other. Richard Foster in Sanctuary of the Soul calls prayer "interactive communication and communion with God".
"Prayer is change...interior transformation...into ministry..." Richard Foster, Prayer**
Prayer exceeds inward pleas in desperate times and evolves from a place deeper than need, comes from the soul's core where faith calls out to Hope! Our prayers call out to God exposing our broken hearts, our fragile egos, our emptiest places. Prayer should acknowledge complete dependence on God, and when words fail, the Spirit intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. (Romans 8:26) Spiritual posture of prayer must embody both humility and honesty, exhibit reverence for God's majesty and trust in God's mystery. Prayer should become the Christian's constant inside activity that is evidenced in outward living. Prayer should transform us into bearers of His Light. Holy Spirit, teach me to pray~dho

** I highly recommend Richard Foster's book, "Prayer, Finding the Heart's True Home"

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Example of Prayer

Give us day by day our daily bread. Luke 11:3 NKJV

On the way up to Jerusalem the Disciples said, “Lord, teach us to pray.” Eugene Peterson writes, “This is the only time in the Gospels that the disciples ask to be taught.” By now, the disciples seem to grasp that prayer means developing a relationship with God, not mere ritual or religious posturing, common among the Pharisees. Witnessing Jesus praying aloud and praying alone, these men want a better understanding of prayer. Jesus responds with an example of proper petition that includes worship, provision, and forgiveness.

Starting with worship, a person should acknowledge God: Father, holy authority and sovereign, come. In this example of prayer, like in the Sermon on the Mount, give us daily bread represents every-day-manna, asking God to meet each day’s basic physical needs. Jesus tells the disciples to ask God to forgive personal sins; likewise, then forgive others. Ask God for help to resist evil. Prayer opens the heart to recognize one’s daily dependence on God.

Lord, humbled to think of all than is beyond my ability, I praise Your holy name, for You are full of power. I need daily bread, both to nourish my body and my soul. Forgive my failures, my arrogance that holds others accountable for my mistakes, that uses others to cover my faults. Protect me from evil. Lord, always give us this bread-dho

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Language of 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 my prayer time? What is necessary for me to develop a richer prayer life? As I ponder these questions, 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

Monday, January 01, 2018

A New Year!

"Oh, the unspeakable benediction of the 'treasures of darkness'! It is not the days of sunshine and splendor and liberty and light that leave their lasting and indelible effect upon the soul, but those nights of the Spirit in which, shadowed by God's hand, hidden in the dark cleft of some rock in a weary land, He lets the splendors of the outskirts of Himself pass before our gaze."    
Oswald Chambers
As another year begs a moment of reflection on its treasures, this quote from Chambers catches my interest. His reference to benediction causes my soul to wonder how often I seek His splendor surrounding my "treasures of darkness". 

A benediction, an ending for a religious ceremony or service, frequently looks to the future with a blessing of hope and peace or an offering of thanksgiving or praise. Chambers seems to be referring to an end of a season of difficulty, reminding that the deepest marks upon the soul, the most hurtful scars do not come from easy times. These times of darkness often grieve us, leaving the soul with "unspeakable" endings and umimagined grace.

While not dwelling on the dark times, my soul hears such grace in knowing that God is with me at all times. Chambers' words clearly depict God's glory coming to us as we struggle "in a weary land". Like God's cloud by day and fire by night dwelling with the Israelites in the wilderness for forty years, God's splendor surrounds us, goes before us, comforts us with His presence. The majesty of God creates a border that envelops our human condition. What glory to behold is ours!

A new year summons each of us into the days and weeks and months to come. How will I consume this time? What will I surrender to God? Who will I engage with goodwill? Where will I encounter Jesus?  When will my confidence in God be consistent? We each have 365 days, 52 weeks, and 8,760 hours to use during this new year. At the end of 2018, what testimony will my life reveal? How will my soul write its annual benediction? Happy New Year!! I pray that 2018 will be a year of joy and peace in knowing the splendor and majesty of God's presence. - dho