Tag Archives: Prayer

Shafts of Glory

While my husband was driving us to our son’s home, I read out loud.  I read the chapter, Awe: Praising His Glory, from Timothy Keller’s book, PRAYER.

The following paragraph by Keller moved me profoundly:  First we should learn to do what C. S. Lewis speaks about in his book on prayer, Letters to Malcolm.  He deliberatively tries to see all pleasures as “shafts of the glory as it strikes our sensibility . . . . I have tried . . . . to make every pleasure into a channel of adoration.”  By “pleasure” Lewis means things as diverse as a beautiful mountain valley, delicious food, a good book, or a piece of music.  What does it mean to make every pleasure into adoration?  He quickly points out that, while we should give God thanks for every pleasure, Lewis means something more.  “Gratitude exclaims . . . . ‘How good of God to give me this.’  Adoration says, ‘ What must be the quality of that Being whose far-off and momentary coruscations are like this!’  One’s mind runs back up the sunbeam to the sun.”  He learns to instinctively think “What kind of God would create this, give me this?”  He concludes that while he doesn’t succeed in always keeping this discipline, it has enriched both his joy in everyday life and his concentrated times of prayer.  He says we “shall not be able to adore God on the highest occasions if we have learned no habit of doing so on the lowest.”

I loved the picture in my mind of following the sunbeam back up to the sun – the discipline of not only being thankful for the sunbeam, but the subsequent adoration of the one who made and sent the sunbeam to glorify my day.  I breathed a hurried prayer, “Lord, I would love to write a blog post about this.  It would be so neat if You would give me a photograph of a sunbeam.”

I kept reading to my husband and completed the chapter.  We reached our destination and enjoyed an evening of fun and fellowship with our son and his family.  As usual, our granddaughter Alyse gave up her room for her papa and I to sleep in.  As soon as I awoke the next morning, I raised the blinds in Alyse’s room and was greeted by glorious sunbeams  peeking out from behind the tall, old evergreens that shielded the morning sun!  I grabbed my camera and ran to the front porch to start snapping pictures.

I thanked God for the sunbeams and answered prayer.  I pondered what kind of God created light and this exquisite beauty for a summer morning.  I pondered what kind of a God hears and answers prayers.  What kind of God?  A powerful creator God.  An Artist God – The Artist of all Artists.  A loving, attentive Father God.  A Father God who delights in giving His children joy.  I adored my Creator God, my Father God!

O Lord God, teach us that gratitude and adoration intersect.  Teach us to follow the sunbeams back up to the sun.  Teach us awe and wonder over what kind of God gives us such beautiful and bountiful pleasures and gifts.  Teach us to turn our gratitude into adoration.

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Keys and Doors

I have a new friend.  Her name is Lona.  When she came for dinner on Easter, she brought me this kitchen towel as a hostess gift.   It reminds me of her, not only because it was a present from her, but because she does open big doors with little keys.  I know because I pray with her every week.

In Matthew 6:19, Jesus told Simon, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”  Simon had just made his confession of faith, telling Jesus, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”   Jesus had replied by calling him Peter, which means rock, and saying, “On this rock I will build my church.”

The church is the living fellowship of all those who believe that Jesus is the The Christ, The Son of God. Jesus is the chief cornerstone of the church.  Peter, the Rock, was the first man to understand and believe that Jesus was the The Christ, the Son of God, and as such, he was the first living stone ( see I Peter 2: 4) placed upon the cornerstone of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Church is built upon the belief and confession that Jesus is The Christ, The Son of God.  That is the door that opens the Kingdom of heaven up to anyone who would believe.   All of us who share this faith are living stones built up over the centuries upon the Rock of our Salvation, Jesus Christ.

Like Peter, every believer is given the keys to the Kingdom of heaven.  The keys are to bind and to loose. To forbid and to allow.  To close and to open.  What do we bind, forbid, and close?  What do we loose, allow and open?  We loose, allow and open when we share the truth of the good news of Jesus Christ.  We bind, forbid and close when we deny the lies of the evil one.  We bind and loose whenever we exercise this authority in prayer.  We speak and believe the word of God given us in the Scriptures and apply them to the lives of our families, churches, and communities.

Lona has beautiful brown eyes that sparkle with the life of Jesus.  She comes to prayer expectantly.  She uses her keys, exercising her authority to bind and loose confidently when she prays.  I hear her.  I learn from her.  Sometimes during our hours of praying with Jesus, He shows her what He is doing, and she giggles with delight. I hear that laughter and I know bad things are being locked up and good doors are opening for those we pray for.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for giving us the keys to the kingdom of heaven.  We are humbled and grateful.  Open our eyes to see doors that need to be opened and to doors that need to be closed.

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Praying With Jesus

A few years ago, a friend of mine was telling me about the 24/7 prayer vigil her church had sustained.  For every hour of every day for 11 years one of them had been kneeling in their church, praying with Jesus.  She said to me, “We would never leave Jesus alone.”

We live in an agonizing world of Gethsemane.  Will we leave our Lord alone or will we join Him?  Will we watch and pray with Him?  Or will we sleep?

What if all of us who loved Him prayed His prayer as recorded in John 17?  What if there were people all  around the globe keeping watch with Jesus and praying John 17 every hour of every day?

Here is my attempt to agree with the prayer of Jesus, to get down on my knees with Him before His Father:

Heavenly Father, Glorify the Lord Jesus.  Grant that more and more people across planet earth will be given eternal life by Jesus and know You the true God and Jesus whom you sent.  May each of us who call on you, who know your name, like your Son, complete the work you give us to do.  Let your people reveal You to the world.  Let us obey Your word.  Let us accept Your words, truly believe them.  Protect your people by the power of your name – the name you gave Jesus – so that they may be one as you, Holy Trinity, are one.  Thank You, Father,  that not one of the ones you give Jesus will be lost.  Thank You that Jesus keeps us safe by the name you gave Him.  May all your children have the full measure of Your joy within them.  Protect Your people from the evil one. Sanctify your people by Your word. Your word is truth.  Let us, your people sanctify ourselves – like our Lord Jesus did – that others too might be truly sanctified.  May all the people of faith, those who already believe and those who will believe, be one, just as You are one.  Do this, Father,  so that the world may believe you sent Jesus.  Give the church the glory you gave Jesus so that we may be one – Jesus in us and You in Jesus.  Unify families in the church.  Unify churches so that the world will know You sent Jesus and have loved us as You have loved Jesus.  Lord, like Jesus, I want all you have given me to be with all your people in Glory – to see Your Glory and the Glory of Your Son..  Lord Jesus continue to make Yourself and the Father known to all in the world who would believe You. Do this mighty Savior so that the love the Father has for You may be in them,  so that You may be in them.  Amen.

                                

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Revelation, Prayer, and A Backpack

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“Prayer is either a sheer illusion or a personal contact between embryonic, incomplete persons (ourselves) and the utterly concrete Person.  Prayer in the sense of petition, asking for things, is a small part of it, confession and penitence are its threshold, adoration its sanctuary, the presence and vision and enjoyment of God its bread and wine.  In it God shows himself to us.  That He answers prayer is a corollary, not necessarily the most important one, from that revelation. What He does is learned from what He is.”   CS Lewis, “The Efficacy of Prayer” from The World’s Last Night and Other Essays

Recently God tenderly illustrated how He reveals himself in prayer.  Two of our dear friends were struggling with some problems.  We invited this couple over to our home for dinner followed by a time of prayer.  After sharing our meal together, the four of us gathered in our living room and implored Almighty God for help with these difficulties.

As my husband and I prayed all that was in our hearts for them,  God was ministering to my friend who was given a picture in her imagination.  She saw herself as a small girl wearing a backpack.  She watched herself take her left arm out and her right arm out and then hand her pack to Jesus.  She watched as He put His left arm in her pack and then His right arm in.  Once her pack was on His back, she observed Him taking her hand, as the two of them skipped happily off, swinging their arms.  She left our time of prayer lighter, her sense of peace and equilibrium restored.  Her burdens had been shifted onto the One Who Revealed Himself as  her Burden Bearer.

No doubt some of our requests from that night of prayer will be answered as a corollary,  but the most important part was the Revelation of the Lord Himself drawing near to love His child.

Lord Jesus, I am feeling sad and anxious, weighted down.  Today I am putting these burdens in my backpack and handing it to you.  I am reaching up to clasp your Hand as You clasp mine.  Let’s skip through this day together.  

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The Prayer Bank

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him.” I John 5:14-15

I had been faithfully praying for one of the deepest desires of my heart, one of my fondest dreams.  I was confident that this prayer was according to God’s will, and so I was confident that the answer was yes, confident the fulfillment was just a matter of time.

Then my dream suddenly crashed and crumbled.  I was disappointed and disillusioned.  I was tempted to quit praying, especially for this particular dream.     God’s spirit ministered to me through the words of Joy Dawson:  “Be encouraged;  no prayer has been wasted.  All prayers are safe in God’s prayer bank and will be cashed in His perfect time…What God starts and energizes, He completes.  It’s His vision and burden.” *  I decided not to give up!

The Holy Spirit also gave me this thought:  The current events could actually be part of  the fulfillment of your request of God.   Now that was a thought to further strengthen my resolve.

I know from personal experience that God tears down to rebuild from the ground up, like He had my marriage (see my story on the book page of this website).  Sometimes dreams have to die and be re-created according to God’s specifications to become beautiful in His perfect time.

This spring I choose to believe that my prayer hasn’t been denied but is in process.  I will wait expectantly, anticipating the thing of beauty God will re-build.

Father God,  I thank You for hearing every one of my prayers and depositing them safely in Your bank.  I praise You for wounding in order to heal, for tearing down to rebuild. You are Good.

*from Intercession, Thrilling and Fulfilling

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A Prayer For The New Year


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As Christmas approached, I felt a need to once again visit the imaginary community of Mitford.  I had missed author Jan Karon’s  delightful characters and longed to spend time with them once again.  I  took Shepherds Abiding off my bookshelf and savored the re-read.

Toward the end of the book, the main character, Father Tim, prays.  His prayer touches my heart, and I cannot think of a better way to start the New Year than to pray it with you and over you.  I think this prayer must be from The Book of Common Prayer, but I am not certain.

“Almighty God, our heavenly Father, who settest the solitary in families: We commend to thy continual care the homes in which thy people dwell.  Put far from them, we beseech thee, every root of bitterness, the desire of vainglory, and the pride of life.  Fill them with faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness. Knit together in constant affection those, who in holy wedlock, have been made one flesh. Turn the hearts of the parents to the children, and the hearts of the children to the parents; and so enkindle fervent charity among us all, that we may evermore be kindly affectioned one to another; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.”

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Joy and Sorrow


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My husband had a PET scan on December 16th, the day before he had his 5th chemotherapy for treatment of his stage 3 lymphoma. We learned the scan showed No sign of any residual lymphoma. We praised God for His gift of healing.  Our joy was off the scale, beyond measurement.  The relief was so immense, I could hardly process the reality of the news. We were singing, “To God be the Glory. Great things He has done.”

A few days later, our daughter-in-law called with sad news.  Her sister in Brazil had delivered a beautiful, healthy baby girl, her first child.  After the delivery, her sister became ill and quickly decompensated, slipping into a coma.  Testing revealed widespread cancer in a late stage.  We began praying desperately with all the faith we had for a miracle of healing for this young woman, but our son informed us in a subsequent phone call that his sister-in-law had become septic and had gone into organ failure. She was placed on life support, and all of us kept praying for a miracle.  We learned she died the day after Christmas.

There are no words to describe the depth of heartache we feel for our daughter-in-law and for her entire family.   Our sorrow cannot be measured.

I ponder how one can carry such joy and such sorrow in one’s heart at the same time, as well as all the wonderings.   I wonder why God gave me back my 68 year old husband of 43 years and why He took a young woman from her husband of one year and her newborn child.   I wonder why the God of miracles sometimes grants them as we pray with faith and why He sometimes denies them as we pray with faith.   Faith is a constant.  His power is a constant.  His love is a constant.  With the prophet Isaiah, I admit that God’s thoughts are not my thoughts – that His ways are not my ways – that His thoughts and His ways are higher than mine.

I suppose that I am experiencing a type of survivor’s guilt, the guilt the loved one of the survivor feels.   I have felt this guilt before, long ago, when my second son was born.  My friend gave birth to her second child shortly afterward.  The two of us had enjoyed being pregnant at the same time.  We had anticipated watching our second born children grow up together.  Our first children were best of friends.  We called them the dynamic duo.  What trouble those boys got into.  We wanted our second children to be girls.  My friend got the girl, but I got the healthy baby.  My friend’s baby girl was born with multiple heart anomalies.  We prayed desperately for a miracle for months.

As I relive the guilt I felt for having a healthy baby, I recall the night God spoke to me as I prayed.  It was the first time I had ever really heard Him like I did that night.   I said, “please, God, please heal baby Kirsten.”  I was disturbed by the response I heard in my thoughts, “I will in heaven.”   I slept fitfully that night and was awakened by a call early the next morning.  Our friend’s baby had been placed on a respirator.  Her entire bowel was necrotic.  Later that day my friend and her husband asked the staff to turn off the respirator and they held their little daughter in their arms as she died.

As I wonder why God granted a miracle to my old husband and denied one for a young mother,  God reminds me that His miracles don’t always look the way I want them to.   He reminds me that healings sometimes are completed in heaven, rather than on earth.   Does that make the healing any less miraculous, any less wonderful?  It is not how I would write the story, but I agree the miracle is just as miraculous and wonderful – indeed, I concede, more wonderful, more miraculous on the other side of eternity.   It doesn’t take the pain away.   It shouldn’t.    But it does return me to the place where I can be comforted by the truth that THE HEALER is always GOOD and always LOVES us.   I will chose to believe today that He loved this young wife and mother in her life and in her death.   I will trust Him for Grace to keep my heart intact as I rejoice in my husband’s healing and grieve over the loss my daughter-in-law suffers.

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Prayer Metaphor

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Coverings come in different sizes and forms.  They are a provision.   They warm, although sometimes they cool.  They often protect and shelter.   I am grateful for a roof that doesn’t leak; a secure covering over my home.  Last summer I was thankful for the umbrella that shielded me from the hot sun when I sat at the patio table.   This winter, on these sub zero days, I am grateful for throws and blankets to snuggle under.   They keep me warm.

In Exodus 40: 34-38, we learn that a cloud covered the tabernacle and the Glory of the Lord filled that portable, moving place of worship.  The children of Israel did not break camp and travel unless the cloud over the tabernacle lifted.   The fire was in the cloud at night.   The cloud was God’s presence and provision.  His presence, His covering provided protection, light, warmth, guidance.   The cloud was His covering of love.

Our spiritual daughter, Linda, made a covering – a soft, warm throw.   She stitched it with love, packed it with love, and mailed it to us with love.  The throw arrived with a letter telling us to remember we are covered with her prayers and the prayers of others who love us during this winter that is devoted to fighting my husband’s lymphoma.

Our friend Jen fasted and prayed for Howard’s cancer to be less serious as he waited for his biopsy.   The fear of kidney cancer gave way to a diagnosis of lymphoma and words of hope regarding the efficacy of it’s treatment.  Our friend Nancy has prayed during every treatment that the chemotherapy would be filtered through the blood of Jesus and anointed to kill the cancer cells, while not harming the healthy cells.   There are prayers being spoken for us that we will never hear about.  There are blessings we will experience without ever realizing they are answers to prayers on our behalf.

When I snuggle under Linda’s throw, I feel warmed by the love of God’s people expressed through the covering of prayer.   I am thankful for this metaphor that reminds me of the real covering that exists over my husband and over me by the power of prayer.

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I Can Do All Things

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My husband was always the one to clean off the car and shovel the side walk,  the one who drove on slippery roads during snowstorms.   All that responsibility fell to me when he became ill.

We woke up to fresh snow on December 5th.   The top layer was light and fluffy but beneath it was wet snow and ice.   My husband, who is getting chemotherapy for lymphoma, was scheduled to have his weekly blood tests drawn at our clinic, which is 18 miles from our home.    I bundled up and pulled on my boots.   As I pushed snow off the car and scraped ice off the windshield,  I wondered if I should cancel Howard’s appointment.  I didn’t want to do that.  It was important to know his current white blood cell count and hemoglobin.  I also wondered if I could get out of our driveway and down our street without getting stuck.  After cleaning the car, I grabbed our shovel and carried it down our street to the main road.  As I assessed our circumstances, I was sure I could drive through the fresh snow.   At the end of our street at the main road,  I saw that the county plow had pushed large clumps of iced snow into our street.  I tried to shovel out a path for our car, but soon admitted to myself that the cost of lifting and throwing those heavy clumps to make a path for the car might mean injuring my bad back.   I knew I needed to stay healthy to care for my husband.   As I walked back to our home, I prayed for help.   After I was inside and out of my coat, I grabbed my cell phone and called Dan, who plows our driveway.  I explained that I needed to have our driveway plowed and a path down our street cleared before 9 am.   To my relief,  he said that he could do that.   Dan arrived right at 9, and I called the clinic to say Howard was going to be late.   We got in our coats while the driveway and road were being cleared.   As I started the car,  Howard and I  prayed for safety.   The roads were slick, and I couldn’t drive more than 40 the entire trip.

That evening I thought about how different my life is this winter than past years.  I thought about the adjustments I am having to make.  In the midst of my self pity, a thought was inserted, a gift was bestowed.   “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”  (Philippians 4:13 – New American Standard Bible)  My attitude was changed as the Holy Spirit gave me grace to recall and believe the truth and grace to speak thanksgiving and praise.

Yes, Lord, you are right.  I can make these adjustments.  I can do all these things because you are giving me strength.  You are helping me.  Thanks for Dan who  plowed us out today.  Thanks for a safe trip to the clinic and back home.  Thanks for our sons who were praying for us.  Thanks that Howard’s white blood count wasn’t so low he needed prophylactic antibiotics.  Thanks that his hemoglobin didn’t fall so low he needed a blood transfusion.   You are a good Daddy, God.   You are the Best Dad.   Thanks for your tender, loving care for us.   Amen.

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Autumn Rains and Prayer

Anne Lamont has said that there are only 3 kinds of prayer:  Wow, Thank You and Help.  There are seasons in my life when I am unable to pray with clarity of thought or length of time.   This current season of having my husband Howard engaged in a battle with cancer is one of those seasons.  I am distracted and unable to focus on anything but the urgent.  I find my prayers are mostly help and thank you.

Howard wanted the leaves removed before it rained last evening.  Yesterday’s prayers were: “Lord, help me get these leaves blown off the lawn before it rains,” and “Thanks for all my husband used to do, Father God.  I always appreciated him, I think, but this is a whole new level of gratitude.”

The rain is pouring down this morning.   I am saying. ” Wow! Thanks for helping me do the leaves before the rains came and thanks for saving me the work of having to water all my plants before winter sets in. ”

Perhaps the most profound prayers, the most effective prayers are these simple prayers voiced in humble faith when I am at the end of myself and desperate for help from the Father in Heaven.

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