Tag Archives: prayer

The Part of Parenting I have Difficulty With

Brokenness is the prerequisite of salvation.

The things used, and paths walked to reach the point of conscious brokenness are varied. Yet the unity of Christian witness across the centuries to the necessity of being broken in order to begin real life is overwhelming. That means that my children, if they are to know real, full, joyous, eternal life, will need to know real brokenness.

I have a friend that, years ago, started praying that God would bring about whatever it took to make his children real, deep followers of Jesus. I remember thinking I didn’t want to go there. I still don’t.

I have a problem with asking God for the circumstances that will bring about my boys’ brokenness. How can I ask for things to happen to my sons that will break them utterly? At the same time, how can I not ask for the very things that they need in order to see and know God?

Prayer requests

Had coffee with one of the church staff yesterday. At the end of our time I asked how I could pray for him and his family.

I always ask.

It’s a good way to let them know a couple of things. One, that I really do care about them, and not what they can do for me. Two, that I realize the nature of the battles we all fight is a spiritual one. 

It also sends some subtle signals.

One, that I’m a praying person. This is a big li… untrut … exaggerati … not completely accurate. I wish I were a man of prayer, I want to be a man of prayer. I’m not… yet. When I ask folks how I can pray for them I am sincere, I really want to know. Not so I can gossip, or “be in the know”, but so that when (and if) I pray I’ll have a better understanding and focus to my prayers. 

At least that’s what I tell myself. 

Truthfully though, I know better. Unless I do it right then while we’re together, or immediately as I’m leaving, it probably won’t happen. You see, I’m not what you would call a gifted intercessor. I’m more in line with Abba Macarius, who when asked, “How should one pray?”, answered,

“There is no need at all to make long discourses; it is enough to stretch out one’s hand and say, ‘Lord, as you will, and as you know, have mercy.’ And if the conflict grows fiercer say: ‘Lord, help.’ He knows very well what we need and he shows us his mercy.” 

The best I can come up with is to say, like a wise man I knew, “Lord, this is what I want. Now, what do you want?”

So if I ask you how I can pray for you, tell me the truth, but don’t envision a prayer warrior on his knees for hours on your behalf. Maybe one day, but not yet.

As for now, a quick lifting of my heart in silence and hopeful, helpless dependence on God, is all I’ve got.

Vanity of vanities

I’m not depressed, so don’t go all suicide hotline on me.

But I’m beginning to see that there is no meaning to life apart from God.

What about working for the good of mankind, providing for your family, or even seeking pleasure and comfort?

All useless, and vain, and meaningless. All mankind will die, including your family, and pleasure and comfort only postpone the inevitable.

What about making a name for yourself, so the world will remember?

How many of you know who the guy is that that bridge down the road is named for? Who will remember you? And even if you are a George Washington, or Ben Franklin, or Ghandi, or anyone else famous and dead what possible good would it do you?

It dawned on me today that there is no one on this earth who knew my Grandfather as a peer. My Father is 79, and a good many of his peers are dead. Within two generations all first hand knowledge of anyone is gone. And within three almost all secondhand knowledge is gone too.

And what about your plans for the future? Your heart could stop an hour from now (regretting that double cheeseburger last night, aren’t you?) and you’d simply be gone. End of story. So eat, drink and be merry, numb the ache, dull the pain, whatever you’ve got to do to get by. Life sucks and then you die.

Unless. 

Unless there’s something more. Something bigger than this world.

Unless there is a God who has a plan for me, things I’m to do in a bigger plan. Unless no one leaves before he’s through with his job here, and no one leaves without His say so. 

Unless I can leave my leaving (and my loved one’s leaving) in His hands, trusting that he knows what he’s doing even if I don’t, I’m without Hope, meaning, or purpose. 

I don’t see any other alternatives.

So I know which one I choose. It seems a no brainer to me.

Where else am I going to go? You’re the only one with the words of eternal life.

What I want

I want* to learn to live this day.

I want* to really be humble.

I want* to learn to really pray.

I want* to take myself lightly. 

I want* simplicity.

I want* to be wise.

I want* to be thankful.

I want* to know God.

I want* real rest.

I want* to be content.

I want* to laugh easily, and often.

I want* to weep without shame.

I want* to learn to listen well.

I want* the fruit of my life to be love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and gentleness.

I will update this, I’m sure.

 

* In this case what I want and what I need may actually be the same.

Much ado about nothing

I’ve rewritten this about four times now.

I don’t know how to say what I want to say.

What I do know is that lots of energy, resources and lives are used in a lot of activity that we call “ministry”, that may not do anything that actually minsters.

I spend a lot of time talking about ministry, and good deal less doing ministry.

Why?

1. It’s easier.

2. I can control it.

3. It makes me look good.

4. That’s what I grew up in.

5. That’s the model available to me.

6. ?

I’ve got another meeting tonight.

We’ll talk about how to get our congregation to pray more. We will pray.

It’ll be about 6 to 1 talk to prayer.

This was the “verse of the day” today.

“For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power.”- I Cor 4:20

Life

We have a small group of folks who meet every other week.

We’ve been together now for almost eighteen years.

We used to be a bible study.

We still call ourselves that, but the study part has kind of taken a back seat to the sharing life and praying for one another part.

We met last night.

Here’s what sharing life was like for us last night.

An adult sibling who is unable, due to depression and divorce, to care for herself, let alone her own children.

A child recently diagnosed with Tourett Syndrome, with the child asking questions like, “Why did God make me like this?”

A parent finishing up chemo and about to start radiation. Aging parents showing signs of diminishing physical and mental capacities.

A couple in their 60’s, forced by their drug addicted daughter, to take in and care for her two toddlers while trying to save the daughter’s life.

Estranged siblings trying (and not trying) to reconcile with one another, a step child trying to find some stability in the middle of an infantile parent’s mess, and other various parenting issues round out the evening.

With laughter, tears and prayer mixed throughout.

We’re way past “bible study”, we’re family.

Just another day in the lives of a few average, middle class, suburban folks.

“Amongst our weaponry are such diverse elements as….”

I need three things… no, four things,… no, five….

I am in need of a great many things. And I don’t mean want, I mean need if I’m going to be more like Jesus. But I am only going to mention three today, as they seem greatest at the moment.

1. I need prayer to be like breathing.– I am a prayer advocate, I’m the one always calling for more prayer by the leadership of the Church. I’m on the prayer team whose job it is to encourage a life of prayer in our congregation, and yet I don’t pray well, or often. I need to be one who has “soaked himself in prayer”, as Richard Foster describes a friend.

2. I need to “eat this book”.- I’m a teacher in our congregation, I know a lot of scripture, and I know a lot about scripture. I also don’t read a lot of scripture lately. I need to be someone who reads, and meditates, and chews on, and eats the scriptures. I need to be with the bible, as Eugene Peterson says, “like a dog worrying a bone”.

3. I need strength to let go of the “self-sins”. I’ve honestly given up much of myself to God. I’ve come to the place where, when looking at the possibility of death, I’ve said, and meant, “You are my King, I am yours to do with as you please.” And there are still things in me that I won’t, or can’t let go of because of what they might bring about in my life. I feel like this prayer from A.W. Tozer,

“Father, I want to know Thee, but my cowardly heart fears to give up its toys. I cannot part with them without inward bleeding, and I do not try to hide from Thee the terror of the parting. I come trembling, but I do come. Please root from my heart all Those things which I have cherished so long and which have become a very part of my living self, so that Thou mayest enter and dwell there without a rival. Then shalt Thou make the place of Thy feet glorious. Then shall my heart have no need of the sun to shine in it, for Thyself wilt be the light of it, and there shall be no night there. In Jesus’ name, Amen.” (The Pursuit of God)

I need these three because what I know isn’t nearly as important as how I live.