Within the first responder’s comment to the post “Try Writing Prayers” on The Blazing Center blog is:
In our Shepherd Group we actually pick one person that we will pray for that week and then sometimes we will write the prayer to them during the middle of the week. I know I have been so encouraged during the week when I receive a written prayer from one of the guys that shows up in my email. I love writing prayers and sometimes model them after the Psalms. I know my kids and my wife have some of the prayers that I have written over the years in their Bibles and that encourages me to continue to write my prayers for them.
I feel a little mixed. I like the idea of writing prayers for people. It’s very possible I may have e-mailed a prayer(s) before, but I don’t regularly send people written prayers. I am not a prayer warrior. Writing out prayers in a journal or praying aloud with another person(s) are techniques that may generally tend to produce a wordier and perhaps more substantial or heartier prayer out of me. But words aren’t everything.
In Matthew 6, praying in secret is commendable. What is not commendable is “many words” & “empty phrases”.
But it must be okay to write out a prayer for someone. In Bible gatewaying, I can see that Paul has mentioned the content of some of his prayers, and perhaps some of those are his actual prayers.
And there’s something about communal prayer, so perhaps writing out a prayer for someone and giving to them could ‘count’ as a sort of communal prayer and means of encouragement.
Anyway I like the idea, though perhaps with a little hesitation…
Tidbits from “A Heroic Cup of Tea“, a post at The Blazing Center blog:
Sullenberger’s wife, Lorraine, at a homecoming celebration for the hero in their home town in California, said with tears in her eyes, “I have always known him to be an exemplary pilot. I knew what the outcome would be that day because I knew my husband. But mostly for me, he’s the man that makes my cup of tea every morning.”
Jesus said that if we give a cup of water to a disciple we’ll be rewarded. If we receive a child in his name he takes special note. Jesus said a poor widow who gave her last penny gave more than all the rich who gave out of their abundance. Most Christians’ lives are made up of thousands of small, faithful acts of service which glorify Jesus more than we know.
Like my friends Bob and Twila. For the past twenty-two years they’ve been foster parents to 43 children, and adopted 6. How many thousands of acts of kindness and service have Bob and Twila done that only Jesus remembers?
For the past 2 years, Twila has been battling cancer. She’s been in the hospital a lot. And many nights, Bob, who drives a coal truck, comes in after work at 8 at night, stays with Twila till 2 a.m., then quietly heads out into the darkness for another day on the road.
A true hero is a servant. He makes his wife a cup of tea every morning. Ordinary. Faithful. Incredible.
For IF God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment;
IF he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly;
IF by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly;
and IF he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard);
THEN the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials,… (–2 Peter 2:4-9a)
Okay…but what about when I’m ungodly? What then? When ‘something’s wrong’, is He still able to rescue me? What about when my sin overwhelms?
David felt encumbered by the weight of his sin, as evident in Psalm 38:
there is no health in my bones because of my sin. For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me” (vs. 3b-4).
I am feeble and crushed; I groan because of the tumult of my heart (vs. 8).
But what does he do? He shares his longing with God; He understands his “sighing is not hidden from” Him (vs. 9). He waits for God and trusts that He will answer (vs. 15). He confesses his sin (vs. 18). He pleas with God not to forsake him, to not be far, to make haste to help (vs. 21-22). He recognizes that God is his salvation (vs. 22).
I, too, should reflect upon salvation, which resurrects deadened hearts:
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trepasses, made us alive together with Christ- by grace you have been saved- (Eph. 2:4-5)
There must be a relationship between remembering His forgiveness and having the qualities of faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, love as 2 Peter 1:5-9 reveals some connection between forgetting His forgiveness and lacking these qualities.
If God exists, and His word is true, and if His hand has been involved in the formation of the world and the resurrection of Christ, then surely has the power to transform my heart.
God, please remind me of Your forgiveness and reveal its power in me. Please crucify my flesh and let your life in me shine through. Please grow your love and related qualities exemplifying Your love in me. Thank you…
photo by willandbeth
An e-mail forward I received led me to do an online search, in which I found the following excerpt from a conversation with Rick Warren**:
I used to think that life was hills and valleys—you go through a dark time, then you go to the mountaintop, back and forth. I don’t believe that anymore. Rather than life being hills and valleys, I believe that it’s kind of like two rails on a railroad track, and at all times you have something good and something bad in your life. No matter how good things are in your life, there is always something bad that needs to be worked on. And no matter how bad things are in your life, there is always something good you can thank God for. You can focus on your purposes, or you can focus on your problems. If you focus on your problems, you’re going into self-centeredness, which is my problems, my issues, my pain. But one of the easiest ways to get rid of pain is to get your focus off yourself and onto God and others.
It is interesting that when one happening can be interpreted as a blessing by someone, it may be interpreted as a curse by another.
In a post up at the The Boundless Line, Ted Slater ponders the benefits to one, loss to another issue. Here is a blurb from that post:
Then I wondered about similar kinds of blessings. If I get a parking space near the door or the last piece of pie at the buffet, someone else doesn’t. If I find a $20 bill fluttering on the ground, someone has lost their $20 bill. If I find a good deal on a HUD house, someone has likely been evicted from their home. If I marry a wonderful woman, some other guy doesn’t get to.
Surely the Lord has His hands on the events of my life, even the seemingly meaningless ones. Why in His providence do I sometimes benefit at someone else’s loss?
And more importantly, what should my attitude be when I am blessed in this particular kind of way? Maybe a sober thankfulness? Maybe, in light of my undeserved good fortune, open-handed generosity? Maybe with humility, knowing that the Lord in His providence may some day want to bless someone else through my loss?
Surely with the conviction that my loving Father’s ways are not capricious, but simply beyond mine.
We’ve probably been on the receiving end of a myriad of ‘invisible blessings’ when we don’t at all view them as such. How often have I complained when I received one of those? And even if there’s not a direct ‘invisible blessing’ associated with a seeming loss, it has to be part of the grander plan. We know that if we are called by God, all works for the good.
Perhaps the ‘invisible blesssings’ concept can be remembered in heavy traffic. A worthwhile conversation may be happening in the car ahead of me. Perhaps because of the delay I was spared from a fatal accident.
Or if someone gets a seemingly ‘undeserved’ traffic ticket. Perhaps it helped the city create a park for all to enjoy or contributed to a hard-earned salary of someone who is financially struggling.
Or if a backpack gets stolen; maybe their Bible inside got deposited in a place and got opened by the right person at the right time.
Or if, or if…
We will likely not always see the good, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there, even if the good is simply part of the seemingly invisible process of God’s work in us. Check out 1 Peter 1:6-7 (ESV):
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
***Photo by HamWithCam
Jesus prayed these words at the Mount of Olives, a place he frequented. But this time would be his last before the betrayal. Take this cup from me, he prayed. Take it, not I give you this cup. Take it, just take it from me. As the old hymn goes, Take my will, and make it Thine; it shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is Thine own; it shall be Thy royal throne. But God, please make a throne in my heart and reside there. Please give me a heart transplant.
Back to the Mount of Olives prayer. Accepting God’s will was no easy task. Luke 22:44 says He was “in anguish” and that “his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” Take this cup.
Take me. Here’s a snippet from the familiar Take My Life song:
Take my Heart and mold it
Take my mind, transform it
Take my will, comform it
To Yours (to Yours) oh, Lord
We need His power to do the unimaginable. There is supposed to be power in remembering forgiveness. Soon after a long list of qualities in 2 Peter 1 comes the verse:
“But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.”
So there is supposed to be a connection between our forgiveness and the good qualities. When we trust in Christ to save us, His Spirit indwells us and shows His fruit in our lives. It’s HIS fruit. It’s the fruit of the Spirit. The fruit results from a transformed heart.
Perhaps we’ll at times feel we cannot display the fruit and that we are completely powerless on our own. How can I get this fruit? How can I feel or be transformed by the power of God’s forgiveness?
The Bible says “we love because he first loved us.” How can I? God please put your love in me and make me love with your love. We are told to “forgive as the Lord forgave”. How can I? God please put your forgiveness in me, make me remember your forgiveness, and let it flow out. Please make me extend mercy.
If we are told to obey, He must provide the power to do it. Not my Will, but Yours be done. That should be my attitude. I should obey, regardless of my feelings. Still, thinking about forgiveness and love coming from myself because of God’s love for me still seems hard. God, please transform me and PUT your forgiveness and love inside me. Thank you…
photo by SnoShuu
Yesterday afternoon I was thrown a wonderful bridal shower, which took place at my aunt’s house. A party just for me (well, Steve will be able to benefit, too). Several friends and relatives came even though it had snowed the night before – it wasn’t snowing at the time of the shower, though, and the main roads were clear, which was nice. Not everyone who was invited was able to come, but the number of people who came was just about perfect for a comfortable seating arrangement in the living room (near a blazing fireplace fire) without any awkward isolated seating. The home provided a warm environment complete with good finger foods and desserts, red candles, a beautiful white flower arrangement, and a decorated Christmas tree.
My sister facilitated the day’s activities, putting her teacherly talents to good use outside the classroom. The first game was an acronymn game where everyone was to write down a word related to marriage corresponding to each letter of “Mrs. McIntosh” – the name I’ll soon take as my own. After a short time, my sister asked me if I was done. I was, and so I won a prize — a candle (though later my mom and I did a candle switch).
My favorite game was the second game. It was SO cool. For any bridal shower planners out there, I recommend this game! Before the shower, my sister had e-mailed Steve a list of both serious and lighthearted questions, which he answered within minutes of receiving the e-mail. Yesterday I was supposed to answer the questions as well; perhaps I was supposed to imagine how he may have answered them. After each question I attempted to answer (and I tried most of them), my answer was then compared with his. It was a kick. He was a kick. His creativity, lightheartedness, and depth shone through in his answers. It’s neat he was able to be a part of a shower even though he wasn’t physically present. The game turned out wonderfully. One of the questions, perhaps the last one, was asking him what superhero he’d be. He mentioned a couple of superheroes, the first of which was…The Green Lantern. A character I’d never heard of. Soon thereafter I received a wonderful gift utilizing this information…The image (above) set in a wide black frame. It’s so fun!! It’ll be great if we can hang this up. If we put it up, it will be a step in helping his home reflect the two of us. Anyway, this was a lovely gift. Not my only lovely gift received that day, but it was just a cool, unique gift.
In addition to the gifts, activities, food, and conversation was a little talk prepared by my mom in which she gave some advice for when times are tough. Nice for her to put so much of her heart and thought into the talk. There was also a time of prayer. A very good blend of activites with a good mix of people.
If anyone’s reading this who attended, thank you very much!! It was a beautiful, special afternoon.
updated on 12/16
Here’s an insightful Pooh quote :
“When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.”
The House at Pooh Corner