Friday, December 1, 2017

NOW I LAY ME DOWN TO SLEEP

 From: Google Image
My Reflections:

Perhaps it might be helpful to share with you a little of my own prayer journey, not so that you can compare your story with mine, but simply to offer one example. As I have tried to underline, for each of us our story is unique. Instead, you might find elements that are common in your story that you would like to share, or that you have questions about. Feel free to respond in the comment section of this blog and add your comments and questions. I would love to talk about them with you.

Prayer Scriptures:

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” (Acts 2: 42)


My Reflections:
           
            Like many others, I grew up in a Christian home, where prayer was very much a part of our family life. As a little child, I was taught to kneel by my bed at the end of the day repeat, “Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.” It took a few years for me to understand what that was all about. I have noticed now that the usual format for this particular prayer goes something like this. “Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. May God guard me through the night. And wake me with the morning light.” I think that is much less frightening for a child. 
From: Google Image


Prayer Scriptures:

“On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there.” (Acts 16: 13)


My Reflections:

            The next part of this initial rote prayer that I learned, I liked from quite young. It was the recitation of all the family and friends. “God bless Mommy and Daddy, Grandma and Grandpa Pitcher, Grandma and Grandpa Evans, Great-Grandma Evans, all of my aunts and uncles and cousins and friends.” Then, as I grew older and learned the names of all of my aunts and uncles and cousins and new cousins were added to the family, I would add each name and the ever growing list would delay bedtime just a little bit longer. 


Prayer Scriptures:

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” (Romans 12: 12)

           
From: Google Images
My Reflections:

            Then I would finish with, “Make me a good girl. For Jesus sake. Amen.”
It is interesting that still today in my intercession, I include the names of all of those in my extended family and I have also added the names of those in my husband, Glen’s family. Those dearest to me are remembered in prayer daily.


 Prayer Scriptures:

“May your eyes be open toward this temple night and day, this place of which you said, ‘My Name shall be there,’ so that you will hear the prayer your servant prays toward this place.” (I Kings 8: 29)
“…then hear from heaven their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause.” (I Kings 8: 45)

Your Reflections:

            What was your early experience with prayer? Did your parents teach you a rote prayer like this? Do you still use it? What elements from your early prayer experiences have you brought into your adult life?
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Monday, September 26, 2016

Prayer – We Just Keep Walking

My Reflections:

            We need to remember that the journey of prayer is dynamic. We do not just offer our prayer to God and then forget about it. That would be like dropping it in a slot machine and waiting for the answer to drop out, without our engagement in the process. 

            Our life of prayer is constantly changing. That is why I focus on the journey of prayer. Many of the things that I have learned relate to the gift of prayer or as it is often called the gift of intercession. Even if you do not believe that you have this particular spiritual gift, I believe that every Christian will at some time face the need to intercede for someone. Those who do not have this calling as a spiritual gift, need not feel guilty or inadequate in any way because they are not like those who have been given this gift.  Their prayers can be equally effective.

Prayer Scriptures:

“If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” (Matthew 21: 22)

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mark 11: 24)

My Reflections:

            I do not know why God chose to give me the gift of prayer, but for a long time I was quite reluctant to talk to others about my life of prayer. I possibly might never have done so, had my husband not begun to refer to it from time to time. The problem was that when people heard about my extended times of prayer others would feel that in order to honour God they also had to include that particular discipline in their lives. This is not necessarily true. The wonderful thing about the life of faith is that each of us has our own unique journey with our own guide, the Holy Spirit who lives within us. He never imposes the same pattern on each of our lives, but with respect for our uniqueness, He leads us in the way that will most effectively enable us to develop into the people He desires us to be. 


Prayer Scriptures:

“I will tell of the kindnesses of the Lord, the deeds for which he is to be praised, according to all the Lord has done for us— yes, the many good things he has done for Israel, according to his compassion and many kindnesses.” (Isaiah 63: 7)

My Reflections:
            The most important element in our prayer journey, as in all parts of our development in faith, is what I call the orientation of our hearts. If our hearts are open to what the Spirit wants to teach us and to His guidance in our lives we will appreciate what He is doing and will become effective for His purposes. We will be open to trying new methods to be effective in the development of our spiritual lives that are in tune with the leading of the Spirit. We may learn them from comments from someone else, or something that we read or hear or an idea may come to us seemingly from out of the blue. 

Prayer Scriptures:

“Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. For your sake, Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary.” (Daniel 9: 17)


Your Reflections:

            Do you have any questions or comments about the uniqueness of our prayer journeys or about the concept of the orientation of our hearts? Please feel free to share them.   


Monday, September 19, 2016

The Journey of Prayer - Starting Out (What is Prayer?)


My reflections:
            There are two significant differences that we need to take into account in our journey of prayer. First of all prayer is a spiritual discipline that is essential for all Christians to practice in order to grow in their relationship with the Lord. 

            Prayer is also a gift that is given to some Christians in order to enable them to intercede for others with intentional prayer on specific topics for specific people. As with so many things in the spiritual life, there is not always a clear demarcation between these two things. 

            When I come into the Lord’s presence in the early morning for my prayer time, I do not say, “Okay during this time I am going to practice the spiritual disipline of prayer,” and then at some time suddenly switch and say, “Now I am going to start my intercession for others.” 

Prayer Scriptures:
“Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” (Luke 11: 1)
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message,” (John 17: 20)
“They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.” (Acts 1: 14)

My reflections:
            By the way, I would be grateful if you would like at any time to post your comments at the bottom of this blog, if you have questions or concerns about anything I am saying. I have lots of material on the subject, but my real desire is that this blog be a practical, learning experience for all of us. So please do not hesitate to speak up in the opportunity that the comments provide for that.

Prayer Scriptures:
“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight,” (Philippians 1: 9)


Your Reflections: 
          Does the concept of prayer being both a spiritual discipline and a spiritual gift make sense to you? What are your questions or concernsThe Journey of Prayer









Eleanor Shepherd, a Salvation Army officer has a repertoire of over 90 articles published in several countries. A speaker at conferences, in Canada, the USA, France, Belgium, Switzerland, South Africa, Australia, Haiti and Jamaica, her story appeared in Hot Apple Cider. Her book More Questions than Answers, explains her style of evangelism by listening.