Tag Archives: prayer

Beyond Understanding

JusJoJan 27 January 2022

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7 NIV)

These are some of my favourite verses. The trouble with being anxious is that it has nothing to do with logic. There are tools and tricks to try to talk yourself out of anxiety but they don’t get to the heart of the thing. My Mom used to reason thus:

What is the worst thing that can happen to me in this situation? Can they kill me? Can they put me in prison? If the worst possible thing happens, can I cope? Will I get through it?

While these methods can work to a certain extent, they don’t touch the emotions, or the heart. In the Bible, the heart describes a person’s center for both physical and emotional-intellectual-moral activities. That is why we need a peace that affects our hearts as well as our minds.

I first noticed this distinction when I was battling with a personal problem, an unhealthy affection. I stood on this verse for a number of weeks or maybe it was months, until the strong attraction weakened.

The peace that God gives as a direct result of our prayer and petition cannot be explained. It cannot be understood. It is beyond understanding but it can be felt. It is like the touch of our Father’s hand on our shoulder.

Image by Pixabay

My Prayer

Lord Jesus, Prince of Peace, today I pray for all those who are reading this post. May they experience that peace which passes understanding as Your gift. Amen.

The Mission

JusJoJan 21 January 2021

I am reading “The Practice of the Presence of God” by Brother Lawrence. He was uneducated and served briefly as a footman and a soldier before becoming a Lay brother among the barefooted Carmelites at Paris in the year 1666. He saw his mission in life to constantly walk as if in Christ’s presence. He served his fellow monks and brothers from the monastery kitchen and saw God’s glory shining in the commonplace.

We each received a fridge magnet like this at a church camp a couple of years ago.

What struck me today was “that we should establish ourselves in a sense of God’s presence by continually conversing with Him.”

That echoes what Paul said to the Thessalonians, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV)

I determined to try to do that today. I had a couple of errands to run at Cresta, our nearest shopping mall. On the way is the Shoprite centre which caters mainly for the poorer people living in Windsor. I decided to explore. We usually just pop into Shoprite for something specific and don’t wander around the corner. I came across a coffee shop that will open on Saturday and was meanwhile serving cappuccinos for R20. I told the proprietor I would return after I’d done my shopping.

I tried to talk to the Lord as I walked around Cresta. I asked for His opinion on whether I should buy a set of three notebooks with a Bible verse on the cover. Of course, I did get distracted and forget my conversation but I found myself wandering around like a tourist in another country wanting to experience the new sights and sounds. Occasionally I’d pray for somebody as I walked past them.

I bought myself a flavoured fizzy water which I opened in the car before driving off to my cappuccino. It fizzed and volcanoed out of the bottle and over my dress and on the door of the car. The kind security guard saw what had happened and came to help me mop up. I saw that as a touch from the Lord.

I was the only person in the coffee shop and I managed to chat to Enoch, who was running it. He had a backer who had helped him and funded his little enterprise and he was excited about opening on Saturday. He said he prayed his business would go well and so I asked whether I could pray for him and his coffee shop and I did. His Fairtrade coffee was delicious and I will be back.

What could have been a stressful chore became a relaxed and interesting adventure.

I’d like to say that I spent the rest of the day in continual conversation with the Lord, but I didn’t. As soon as I got home I got into routine and went on with the normal process of my day, except when my sewing machine didn’t work and I prayed about it. Nevertheless, it’s a start and I shall continue trying to converse with the Lord in everyday things.

My Prayer

Thank You Lord, for a fun day. Thank You for for being with me through the security guard. Thank You for the people I met. I’d love to be in conversation with You as I do everyday things tomorrow. Please remind me. May I serve others as others have served me in the ordinary things. Amen.

The Tempest

JusJoJan 7 January

Image from Pixabay

When I think of a tempest, I think of two occasions when Jesus calmed a storm. The first can be found in Matthew 14:13-44. It was a very emotional day for Jesus. He had heard of the death of John the Baptist and wanted to get away by himself. The crowds followed Him and He ended up feeding five thousand men plus women and children. He sent the disciples away in a boat while He dismissed the crowd. Later, He walked on the water towards them. Peter got out of the boat and walked towards Jesus but when he looked at the storm, his faith failed. As they got into the boat, the storm died down.

The other story can be found in Matthew 8.

Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, ‘Lord, save us! we’re going to drown!’ He replied, ‘You of little faith, why are you so afraid?’ Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.” (verses 24-26 NIV)

It is interesting to me to notice that, in a party including four seasoned fishermen, who understood storms and were experts at managing boats, they should see fit to wake a carpenter to help them.

These stories are among those I like to use for a Biblical meditation.

I read through the story slowly, maybe reading it a second time out loud.

Then I get comfortable, concentrate on breathing deeply and try to imagine myself as one of the characters in the story, perhaps one of the crowd who stayed behind after Jesus dismissed them, or a disciple, maybe the one commissioned to wake the sleeping Jesus.

I invoke all of my senses if I can. I try to feel the wind around me or the grass under me or, if my character is in the boat, the pitching of the waves. What do I see, hear, smell, taste?

I imagine a moment when Jesus and I are alone together. What does He say to me? What do I reply? He gives me something to remind me of our time together.

Some people are helped or encouraged by such a meditation, others not so much. I encourage you to try it, especially if you are in the midst of a tempest. I’d love to hear your feedback about how you experienced it.

My Prayer

Lord Jesus, thank you for my imagination. Please help me to use it to get closer to you. Amen.

It’s the Love

3 January 2022

It’s not the thought that counts. It’s the love behind the thought that counts.

When my 12-year-old granddaughter made 52 cards which she shared out among the family and asked them to write or draw something encouraging for my daughter to look at for every Saturday in the year, that was love. The gift itself was worth no more than a sheet or two of cardboard, but the love behind the thought was priceless.

The parents who change their lives to make a happy family home for their disabled child, or the wife who puts her life on hold to look after a husband who has had a stroke, do it out of the abundance of their love. Such gifts have no monetary value but they are worth more than gold, more than diamonds.

The woman who gate-crashed the party at Simon the Leper’s house, broke her treasure and anointed Jesus, did it out of love. To the disciples, especially Judas, it seemed such a waste. But Jesus saw the love that was behind the gift. (Mark 14:3-9, Luke 7:36-48, John 12 ;1-8 NIV)

All around us is an abundance of love but we don’t always see it. Our eyes are too focused on the material, the physical.

God has blessed us with so many things.”… God … richly and ceaselessly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” (1 Timothy 6:17b Amplified Version) This is just one of the ways God shows the abundance of His love to us. Most supremely, however, “…God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 NIV)

My Prayer

Father God, please attune my eyes to see the love, the love of ordinary people around me as well as the abundant love You have shown and continue to show us. Thank You for your indescribable gift. Amen.

Life’s a Journey

I’ve started going through Rick Warren’s book, “The Purpose Driven Life” again. In chapter four he asks, “What is your metaphor for life?” Some people see life as a circus, a minefield, a roller coaster, a puzzle, a symphony or a dance. My husband, in answer to my question, said it was like our fiberoptic Christmas tree – always changing.

I see my life as a journey. It has a starting point and it has a destination. As I go along, I gain more experience and can cope with future travel challenges. There are challenges to travel, of course. Whether it be a long hike with obstacles to overcome, rivers to cross, or difficult rocky outcrops to negotiate, or international travel with borders to cross, languages to learn, visas to obtain, it is seldom a boring predictable experience.

There are travelling companions. They journey with us for different proportions of our travels. My husband has been travelling with me for nearly 43 years but he won’t always be with me. Other people travel only a short distance with me but if I can enrich their journey or help them with directions, it adds to the journey of both of us.

My destination is Heaven and the road has already been mapped out for me. Although many of my traveling companions and other pilgrims before us have the same destination, we don’t reach it at the same time. Each person’s journey is an individual one.

I need travelling clothes that are comfortable but can be adapted instantly if conditions or climates change. I also need a compass and the Bible is an excellent one.

“How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. … I run in the path of your commands, for you have broadened my understanding.”(Psalm 119:9-10 and 32 NIV)

I can write more about life as a journey, but Rick Warren maintains there are only three Biblical metaphors for life. Life is a test, life is a trust and life is a temporary assignment.

Certainly life is temporary, we all know that. One day my heart will stop beating and my earthly life will be over. Thinking about my life as a test or a trust is challenging because I’m not sure I am doing all that well. However, it might change the way I react to problems, trials and troubles. This will require some serious reflection.

Meanwhile, as the motor car manufacturer maintained, “Life is a journey. Enjoy the ride.”

My Prayer

Eternal Father, I know in my mind that my life is not about me but because You willed it according to Your plan. Thank You for the gifts and talents with which You entrusted me. May You have a good return on Your investment. When I am tested, please help me to stand firm and trust in Your strength to overcome. Amen.

Waves

The seas have lifted up, Lord, the seas have lifted up their pounding waves. Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea- the Lord on high is mighty. (Psalm 93:3-4 NIV)

We are at the seaside. Yesterday I went into the sea with my little inflatable surfer with the intention of surfing the waves. I had done this a couple of days ago with reasonable success but this time I didn’t seem to be able to position myself in the middle and I kept falling off. Moreover there was a very strong side current so I stuck to small waves and shallow water.

Way beyond me, surfers were riding the big waves with style. I got to thinking about waves. Waves transfer energy. In this context the energy is one of motion and surfers are able to move far on the energy of just one wave.

From a scientific point of view, most energy forms have some wave component – light energy, electrical energy, sound energy.

I became aware again of how mighty God is. He spoke and light was created. Imagine the energy, the power involved! God’s power stopped the waters of the Red Sea and held them at bay until He chose to remove His hand. Jesus demonstrated His power over the waves of the sea. He spoke and the sea was calmed, the waves as tame as a puppy dog.

I am convinced that prayer has power – energy if you like. Maybe prayer consists of some form of electromagnetic wave yet to be discovered. Be that as it may, I know that all power, all energy originates from God Himself, the Creator of heaven and earth.

My Prayer

Father God, I stand in awe of Your power as I watch the waves of the sea. May I never forget that You, the mighty God, are for me, not against me. Amen.

Panic Button

Last night my mother fell again. She is 87 and is unable to get back into bed from the floor. She lives in a cottage on the same property as my brother, sister-in-law and nephew.

In February, after the third fall, my brother started investigating a panic button device that my Mom could wear around her neck if anything happens to her and the family is not around. It is monitored by a security company and they will contact a member of the family if it’s a simple matter or send an ambulance if it is more serious. Last time my brother didn’t hear the phone call and they sent an ambulance.

I got the call at 1.30am. They had tried to phone my brother and got no reply. I explained I am in Randburg and my mother is in Gqeberha but I would try to contact my nephew which I did and Mom was soon back in bed.

Yesterday my husband read a section in his devotional guide of how God sometimes impresses on people to pray for somebody. There were accounts of how Christians had felt an urge to pray for somebody specific and how they had later found out what danger or trouble that person had been in. Sometimes we will be woken in the middle of the night with a burden to pray.

It is something like my mother’s panic button. Our Father has a whole network of people on whom He can call to pray when there is a need. We should take these promptings seriously and act immediately. We might never know the cause, or the result, but God’s panic button will bring help.

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that should always pray and not give up. (Luke 18:1 NIV)

My Prayer

Lord, I have committed my life to You. That includes my time. When You call on me, may I not be spiritually asleep or too distracted with my own life to heed your call. Please make me sensitive to Your whispers. Amen.

God Always Answers Prayer.

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

God always answers our prayers, but He does not always give us what we want.

Rick Warren explains it thus:

“When the request is not right, God says, ‘No.’ When the timing is not right, God says, ‘Slow.’ When you are not right, God says, ‘Grow.’ But when the request is right, and the timing is right and you are right, God says, ‘Go!'”

This post is part of One Liner Wednesday.