November 18, 2010 at 11:51 am Comment (1)
This is something I struggle with. I admit that most of my life, my prayer life has been more of a monologue. I’ve found that I have little trouble voicing my concerns and requests to God. When I’m struggling with something I can cry, sing, shout or whisper, and I love doing this. My times of crying out to God have been a lifeline and a comfort. I enjoy praising Him too. When I think about the world and the beauty in it, I can’t help but praise Him. Or when I think about my friends and family and all the ways that they have loved me, I am grateful. I’m also pretty good at praying for other people too. I’m on the Intercessors Prayer Team at my church. I feel that intercessory prayer is one of my gifts, along with empathy, so I feel comfortable entering into the struggles or pain another person is feeling.
However, listening to what God might be telling me is more difficult. This is definitely an area where I can grow. It’s hard for me to “be still.” I feel that when I’m praying I should be saying or doing something.
I’m starting to read a book called Opening to God by David G. Benner. In it Benner introduces the spiritual discipline of lectio divina and explores how the practice leads to a more prayerful life. Lectio divina literally means ‘divine reading’ or ‘spiritual reading.’ It dates back to the 3rd-6th centuries as a common practice in many monasteries. It involves reading and interacting with a passage of scripture to discern what God may be saying to you in it.
Recently there has a been a surge in popularity of lectio divina and other spiritual disciplines. Perhaps its the frantic pace of modern technological life that makes Christians yearn for something different. Or, perhaps like me, other Christians have trouble listening for God and are looking for a way to train the ears of their heart to do so.
I’ll give an update of how Opening to God and my attempt at lectio divina are going soon.
November 3, 2010 at 1:30 pm Comments (2)
Believe it or not, Advent starts on Sunday November 28th. It’s easy for many of us to get caught up in the rush of preparations for family and friends, so it’s important to set aside times to reflect on Jesus’ birth. One of the best ways to do this is with a devotional specifically geared for Advent.
Christianbook.com is offering free devotional emails during the season of Advent. Click on the above banner to sign up.
August 12, 2010 at 3:34 pm Comment (1)
Will Davis, author of Pray Big and Pray Big for Your Child shared these thoughts about the recent deaths of Christian aid workers in Afghanistan—
The brutal murders of ten Christian aid workers by the Taliban has once again underscored the frequent dangers faced by those who desire to take Jesus’ message and care offered in his name to underserved or oppressed people groups. Such senseless killings are not, tragically, all that unusual. These are just getting more attention because so many of them were Westerners.
But their deaths raise a series of profound, if not troubling questions:
- Where was God? Why didn’t he protect them?
- How far is too far? What price is too high? Weren’t these men and women being foolhardy for venturing into such dangerous territory?
- And, aren’t there certain lines—political, geographic, cultural and even sacrificial—that we shouldn’t cross in our efforts to spread Christ’s message? When do we decide that certain assignments need to be someone else’s, and not our own?
These are serious questions indeed. The good news is that the Bible directly answers them and lays out clear instructions for all of us who seek to advance the love of Jesus.
- Where was God? He was with those who were perishing. No Christian has ever died apart from the presence of God. When the bullets started flying, Jesus was there. God did not promise to exempt his servants from such suffering or sacrifice while on earth. Similar sacrifices have been all too frequent in the 2000 year history of the Christian faith. But God does promise to greatly reward in eternity those who suffer in this life. He reminds us that this world is not our home and that such suffering, while expected here, will only bring great reward in heaven.
- How far is too far? When is the sacrifice too great? Each believer must wrestle with God on the sacrifices he or she is being asked to offer for Jesus’ sake. And none of us should judge the other in regards to what he believes God is telling him to do. But Philippians 2 sets the bar of sacrifice painstakingly high: Jesus, who was God, gave up everything to reach out to sinners—even sinners who would reject him. If he deemed that sacrifice worth it, can we do any less?
- When is it someone else’s responsibly? Again, we are not to judge what other believers may feel God is or isn’t telling them to do, or where he is or isn’t telling them to go. But every Christian will answer to God for how we steward the specific assignments he gives us. Moses went to Egypt because God told him to. Paul went to Rome because God told him to. Hudson Taylor went to China because God told him to. Jim Elliott went Ecuador because God told him to. For any of them, not going would have been disobedience. I imagine that each of the aid workers who were murdered were serving exactly where they believed God expected them to be. Ours is not to judge whether they were right or wrong in their presumptions. Ours is only to be as radical in answering our calls as they were in answering theirs.
Pray for the mourning families and friends of those who died in Jesus’ name. Pray also for their murderers, that they may come to know grace that had so captivated their victims.
Rather than abstain this Lenten season, I decided to add something to my daily schedule–prayer. Nearly every book I’ve read about prayer says its best to find a particular place and time to pray. That way it becomes a habit, rather than a haphazard occurrence. Then to quote Nike, you have to “Just do it.”
Two times and places I find it easiest to pray is when I’m driving or walking. On my way to and from work I can focus my thoughts on God, bring my concerns to Him. I find I’m less likely to bring them to my desk or home to my husband. When I walk, prayer is almost like breathing. My circulation is up and my brain is awake. (More awake sometimes than when I’m at my desk, I confess.) So I take a break to enjoy the fresh air and God’s presence as I circle the CBD parking lot, hoping that my coworkers don’t think I’m talking to myself.
Where and when do you pray? In the morning before the house is awake? At night when everyone’s asleep? Writing in a journal on the train?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
, Spiritual Disciplines
February 26, 2010 at 6:32 pm Comments (5)
Prayer is hard. At least for me it is. It’s especially difficult when you don’t get an answer for months, sometimes years. It’s much easier to give up, rather than persist when you don’t see an answer right away.
Fortunately, I’m not alone. A few weeks ago I interviewed Eric Ludy, co-author of Wrestling Prayer. In Wrestling Prayer he and his wife Leslie share how through a difficult time God lead them into a deeper and more fulfilling prayer life.
I was encouraged by Eric’s insights and think you will be too.
To hear Eric Ludy’s interview, click here.
January 11, 2010 at 11:35 am Comment (1)
As I was growing up I was unaware of Advent. It wasn’t part of my church’s traditions. We celebrated Christmas certainly, with songs, pageants, and gifts. I particularly remember one time in junior high when I played an angel. We sang “Angels We Have Heard in High” and I made a halo out of gold star garland wire. It’s still sitting in my old bedroom. But Advent is a more recent addition to my holiday mindset. I was introduced to it by the church I now attend through the use of the Advent wreath. I now have an advent wreath at home. This will be the third Christmas that my husband and I will light the candles and say the prayers.
Now, it’s not the act itself of lighting a candle that makes me remember and anticipate the coming of Christ. It’s not a formula. But it does help. I forget all that God has done and need the reminder. Somewhere in my reading, it was said that ritual and ceremony aren’t really for God. He doesn’t need our worship and adoration. He can certainly exist and be glorious without us, but practices like lighting advent wreaths, or keeping an advent calendar help us look to Him. And when we pause and look to him in the midst of the daily craziness of life, we worship.
, Spiritual Disciplines
, Spiritual Growth
December 4, 2009 at 10:09 am Comments (2)
Fear is like an invisible prison. It holds you captive, influencing your choices and perceptions about life, God, and other people. Can you imagine what your life would be like without fear? With so much going wrong in the world it can seem hard to picture. In Fearless, Max Lucado author of 3:16: The Numbers of Hope, and pastor of Oak Hills Church, shows you how life can be lived with confidence and joy, when you replace your fear with faith. Let this inspiring and timely message encourage your heart today!
, Spiritual Growth
December 1, 2009 at 5:12 pm Comments (2)