Driven To Prayer

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The past few weeks have been filled with challenging events that tear at our hearts and call us to come to grips with new realities. Maybe your social media has been filled with a thousand opinions and predictions about things that matter … and some things that do not. Have you seen people ‘unfriending’ one another because they disagree on a matter? I’ve read reasonable responses to the various situations facing us, and I’ve seen some terribly immature responses that did nothing but stir up more hatred and ill will. It is all beyond me to try to fix … but it is not beyond our God. So if you are disturbed by the events of the day (any day) … let it drive you to prayer.

When we are driven to prayer we admit…

*We cannot repair this broken world, but we know Someone who can.

*We have our own part in the faults and blames, and we receive the forgiveness and insight to begin again.

*We trust that God hears and is moved to action when His children pray.

*We desire to be used, for God to speak through our hands, feet, words, and hearts to reach out to others.

*We desperately need God’s presence and never want to face a day without Him.

I’m not very familiar with The Jesus Psalter, but I ran across a paragraph that speaks to me today. “Richard Whytford, an English monk, composed the complex Jesus Psalter as a means of solace and supernatural protection during the bloody anti-Catholic persecutions of Henry VIII” (Prayer: A History by Philip Zaleski, Carol Zaleski). So, it is a prayer born of adversity. It longs to focus on Christ and not the surrounding circumstances. When we are driven to pray, I think it is a great prelude to pouring out our heart to the Lord:

Jesus, grant me the grace to fix my mind on Thee, especially in time of prayer, when I directly converse with Thee. Stop the motions of my wandering head, and the desires of my unstable heart, and my many vain imaginings. O beloved of my soul, take up all my thoughts here, that mine eyes, abstaining from all vain and hurtful sights, may become worthy to behold Thee face to face in Thy glory for ever.

When distracted and frightened by the events surrounding you … take a moment to re-orient your heart … to focus upon the Lord.

Thanks for reading, JD.

Charleston In Our Prayers

6.20.15

 

Our Father in heaven, Holy Holy Holy is your name.

On this Sunday parishioners will gather at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Their hearts are broken, as are ours … and Yours … yet in faith they surrender to You in worship and tears and praise. Their prayers are linked to Christians around the world who weep for the undeserved violence against those who love You.

We pray for the family and friends of Cynthia Hurd and those who walked through libraries she managed in this beautiful city. How many minds were enlightened and entertained through her work with the books that changed the world?

We pray for the family and friends of Susie Jackson. In her almost 90 years she lived through untold humiliations and triumphs and yet her faith was securely in your Son Jesus. In her weakness she was made strong, never stronger than now.

We pray for the family and friends of Ethel Lance, who served this church for three decades. As she entered her seventies she never knew that all of the world would whisper her name in prayer … and we wish we did not know her now, under these circumstances, …but we do…and we appeal to You on behalf of her family.

We pray for the family and friends of DePayne Middleton Doctor. The students at Southern Wesleyan University will miss her … her four daughters and the rest of the family and church will shed many tears. As the songs of faith ring through the sanctuary, her voice will be missing…but heard in faith. Heal them, Father, over the coming years.

We pray for the family and friends of the Honorable Clementa Pickney, who spent his life trying to point people to you through both service in the church and in our government. His final sermon is one heard throughout our land.

We pray for the family and friends of Tywanza Sanders, in his youth we believe he had great promise for many years of service. But we trust that You have all of our conflicting feelings worked out with great clarity and love in your own heart.

We pray for the family and friends of Daniel Simmons, Sr. We held our breaths and prayed that he would survive, but he did not. How many were led closer to You through his teaching, service, and devotion? Only You know.

We pray for the family and friends of Sharonda Singleton. Young and strong, leading young athletes at Goose Creek High School … and her own family … her presence will be missed terribly. We pray that all she taught about living and winning and striving will be remembered by those who loved her most.

We pray for the family and friends of Myra Thompson, known for her tireless energy in restoring the historic buildings of Emanuel. Her love for her church and for You clearly demonstrated in her desire to minister and love all in Your name. She was among those who warmly welcomed a conflicted and deluded young man into their presence.

And so we pray for the family and friends of Dylann Roof, and for him.  In our human anger and indignation we feel he does not deserve to be named in the esteemed company above. How disoriented his family must be at this time … but no more so than those reeling from the sudden losses he brought about. Perhaps he will turn to You, Father, for it is only in Your hands that He can find any hope. The same is true of any of us.

If there ever was a time when we did not know how to pray as we ought … a time when we need the help of Your Spirit … it is now.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. 27 And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. ~ Romans 8:26-27

I don’t want to end this prayer Lord … I desire it to linger in my heart and my mind … and teach me to treat every person as precious and worthy of Your greatest act of love.

In the name of the merciful and gentle Shepherd,

Amen

 

More Wasted Days

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I think I’ve read this story in several places. It originates (as far as I know) from Gordon MacDonald’s book, The Effective Father.

It is said of Boswell, the famous biographer of Samuel Johnson, that he often referred to a special day in his childhood when his father took him fishing. The day was fixed in his adult mind, and he often reflected upon many of the things his father had taught him in the course of their fishing experience together. After having heard of the particular excursion so often, it occurred to someone much later to check the journal that Boswell’s father kept and determine what had been said about the fishing trip from the parental perspective. Turning to that date, the reader found only one sentence entered: “Gone fishing today with my son; a day wasted.”

Now it could be that that was a happy reflection and written with a bit of wry humor. Or maybe he really did regard the day as wasted. But either way, we need more wasted days with our children.

It’s not easy. We live in a driven world with crazy schedules and deadlines that send our blood pressure soaring. For some of us it’s hard to remember when we wasted a day. As we all probably thought while reading the account above, that day was not truly wasted. It was the most memorable day in the author’s life.

In order to waste more days we’re going to have to decommit (is that a word?) to things that are really good. Are you in way over your head? Are you scrambling to keep appointments to appease other people? It’s really true that most organizations are invasive … they would like all the time, money, and work that you can contribute to the cause. For any organization to continue, it needs to believe it is the most important cause. How many of these organizations are really pulling your family together … and how many are pulling your family apart?

We need more wasted days like these…

Days that are centered around conversations with people we love most.

Days that create memories without having to do something spectacular.

Days that leave us relaxed instead of breathless.

Days that focus on activities that require the hands and energy of each other in order to complete.

Days that might result in no lasting evidence of the day itself…. there’s just nothing to show for it … at least nothing visible.

And we need Dads for Wasted Days. I know there are moms who are trying to be both mom and dad. Very difficult. But for those parents who are present physically, I urge you to waste some days with your sons and daughters.

For it is in a wasted day that your children will realize that for at least one moment nothing else mattered more than them.

I think that’s a feeling they’ll remember for the rest of their lives … and long to provide for their own children one day.

Thanks for reading, JD.