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.  

Monday, June 6, 2016

What are your thoughts about marriage?

I discovered this blog today that I had not posted.  It might interest you:

Here is a reflection that came as I had occasion to perform a marriage recently.

My Other Blog

Here is the link to the other blog where I contribute each month.  My plan is to regularly update this one with unique posts as well.  In the meantime, you may want to read this contribution to The Word Guild blog.  Here is the link:

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

What Language Do You Speak?

      It is such a long time since I posted.  Now I am back.  Keep tuned.  As a writer I am fascinated by language so here is a post about it. 

 Nothing irks me more than religious jargon.  I guess since I have been working with a congregation that is made up of twenty-eight different nationalities for the last three years, I have become even more sensitive to the understanding of those whose first language is not English.  Now that means that they have trouble understanding the English that is spoken today.  If that were not enough of a challenge, to try to communicate spiritual ideas to them in an ancient form of English, just frustrates them as they try to understand another language they have never learned and will not usually hear outside of gatherings of church people.  Why would we try to make it more difficult for them?  To me, that is not showing love for them. 

            For example, a longtime believer will speak to them glowingly and sincerely of the bliss of abiding in Christ.  The quizzical expression with which they respond is not a mark of their lack of spiritual depth, but rather manifests their confusion about the language we are using.  What on earth does it mean to abide in someone? There may be a small chance that they have heard of staying in a particular place as being described as abiding there.  But to abide in a person, or in God, what could that mean? 

            If we were to express to them the joy that we experience as we daily practice putting our trust in Jesus to help us face the challenges we meet, we might just pique their curiosity, rather than confuse them.  They might want to raise questions with us about how we could place our trust in Someone who once lived on this earth but according to what they understand the Bible to stay, left here to return to Heaven.  What an open invitation to introduce the person of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus who lives in us and among us here and now. 

            Such clear communication might evoke questions about whether God is really interested in the details of our lives enough to be concerned about the challenges we face each day.  This opens the door for us to share our unspectacular yet faith-building stories of the activity of God in our daily lives.  Not only can we share our stories, we can also ask our friends if they have ever had experiences that have caused them to wonder about the world that is beyond the senses and how it might have some kind of influence upon their lives.  We will be amazed at what God is doing in the most unexpected places with the most unlikely people. 

            There is nothing as exciting as discovering the activity of God in our everyday world and clear communication of spiritual realities in everyday language opens the door.  It gives us opportunities to become bilingual.  We learn to speak Christianize in ordinary English.  I dare you to give it a try. Then tell me about your experience.  I can't wait to hear.