Archive for the ‘Prayer’ Category

A Halloween Prayer

Once upon a time, Halloween (much like Christmas) was a day set aside by a pope in response to a popular existing pagan holiday on that day.  More specifically, the day was All Saints Day, which was moved from May 13 to November 1 in order to steer the celebration from a pagan emphasis to a Christian one.  All Saints’ Eve, or Halloween, was also set aside (“hallowed”) as a special day for remembrance and worship.

Most of us do not celebrate either a pagan holiday or a Christian one.  But for those interested, reflecting on God’s goodness to those who have gone before is not a bad idea on Nov 1, October 31, or any other day.

Here is a contemporary English version of a classic All Saints’ Day prayer (from the Church Society’s English Prayer Book):

And we bless your holy name for all your servants who have died in your faith and fear. Give us grace to follow their good examples so that with them we may inherit your eternal kingdom. Grant this, O Father, for Jesus Christ’s sake, our only mediator and advocate.


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Prayer of the Week

Grant us, O Lord, to trust in you with all our hearts; for, as you always resist the proud who confide in their own strength, so you never forsake those who make their boast of your mercy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Book of Common Prayer (Contemp.), 233.

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I stumbled on to this blog post by Tim Keller while searching for something else. He addresses his thoughts on daily prayer and devotions. I find it very humbling, as I generally am on the losing end of the fight with busyness and laziness.


The last form of prayer that I do daily is prayer with my wife, Kathy. About nine years ago Kathy and I were contemplating the fact that we had largely failed to pray together over the years. Then Kathy exhorted me like this. “What if our doctor told us that we had a serious heart condition that in the past was always fatal. However, now there was a pill which, if we took it every night, would keep us alive for years and years. But you could never miss a single night, or you would die. If our doctor told us this and we believed it, we would never miss. We would never say, ‘oh I didn’t get to it.’ We would do it. Right? Well, if we don’t pray together every night, we are going to spiritually die.” I realized she was right. And for some reason, the penny dropped for us both, and we can’t remember missing a night since. Even if we are far away from each other, there’s always the phone. We pray very, very simply — just a couple of minutes. We pray for whatever we are most worried about as a couple, anyone or anything on our hearts that day. And we pray through the needs of our family. That’s it. Simple, but so, so good.

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steve, you were right. i watched this video of henri nowen and was profoundly challenged in where i find my identity as a Christian and the artificial ways i find my significance. this reminder from nowen on living as beloved children of God is worth the time as it will refreshingly re-orient your heart and perspective. last night lisa and i watched it together and had great discussion and prayer time afterwards.

there are also some moments where you will be reminded of the minister in the movie  “the princess bride”… enjoy! 

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One book that’s been getting a lot of buzz is Paul E. Miller’s A Praying Life.  It was reviewed online by Bob Thune.  There’s loads of great stuff just in the review; just from what Thune calls “thought-provoking turns of phrase” we get these:

 The persistent widow and the friend at midnight get access, not because they are strong but because they are desperate. Learned desperation is at the heart of a praying life.

We think spiritual things – if done right – should just ‘flow.’ But if you have a disability, nothing flows, especially in the beginning.

There is a tendency among Christians to get excited about ‘listening to God’ as if they are discovering a hidden way of communicating with God that will revolutionize their prayer lives… This subtly elevates an experience with God instead of God himself. Without realizing it, we can look at the windshield instead of through it.

The latter two quotes are not only excellent quotes on prayer; they apply equally well to reading the Bible and the difficulty we sometimes have in “getting something” from it (as discussed in the previous posts).

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“Prayer does not fit us for the greater work, prayer is the greater work.” –Oswald Chambers

The Lenten Prayer of St. Ephram (of the Eastern Orthodox tradition): “O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, despair, lust of power, and idle talk. But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience, and love to Thy servant. 
Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own transgressions, and not to judge my brother, for blessed art Thou, unto ages of ages. Amen.”

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In view of God’s mercy may this prayer flow from our hearts. Thank you, puritan fathers:

Lord Jesus, I sin. Grant that I may never cease grieving because of it, never be content with myself, never think I can reach a point of perfection. Kill my envy, command my tongue, trample down self. Give me grace to be holy, kind, gentle, pure, peaceable, to live for Thee and not for self, to copy Thy words, acts, spirit, to be transformed into Thy likeness, to be consecrated wholly to Thee, to live entirely to Thy glory.

Deliver me from attachment to things unclean, from wrong associations, from the predominance of evil passions, from the sugar of sin as well as its gap; that with self-loathing, deep contrition, earnest heart searching I may come to Thee, cast myself on Thee, trust in Thee, cry to Thee, be delivered by Thee.

O God, the Eternal All, help me to know that all things are shadows, but Thou art substance, all things are quicksands, but Thou art mountain, all things are shifting, but Thou art anchor, all things are ignorance, but Thou art wisdom.

If my life is to be a crucible amid burning heat, so be it, but do Thou sit at the furnace mouth to watch the ore that nothing be lost. If I sin wilfully, grievously, tormentedly, in grace take away my mourning and give me music; remove my sackcloth and clothe me with beauty; still my sighs and fill my mouth with song, then give me summer weather as a Christian.

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how popular is Jesus in our church?

 Last night our church had our first attempt at corporate prayer, a gathering for the entire congregation to pray together as a family. It is encouraging to me that we are being stirred by the Spirit to cry out to God as a family in this way. I believe he is stirring our hearts and congregation for a purpose, and I am excited. As I have been celebrating and processing the night a quote from a book I read a long time ago keeps pricking my heart. From Jim Cymbala’s book Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire he writes something like,

“You can tell how popular a Pastor is by who comes to a church on Sunday morning to worship. You can tell how popular a church is by who comes to Sunday School classes. You can tell how popular Jesus is by who comes to a prayer meeting.” (emphasis mine)

It is my prayer that the Holy Spirit stirs us in such a way that Jesus becomes more popular than both our church and our pastor(s). May this wave of the Spirit catch us all in the current. May the Holy Spirit be pleased to blow through us and move forward the boundaries of the Kingdom for his glory. But the Holy Spirit is like the wind, he blows where he pleases… so who knows?

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