Tag Archives: prayer

Enough


There is a small poem from St. Teresa of Avila that has been ringing in my mind over this last week.  Read and think.

Let nothing upset you,
let nothing startle you.
All things pass;
God does not change.
Patience wins
all it seeks.
Whoever has God
lacks nothing:
God alone is enough.


Amazed (or Mark 2, part 2)


Yesterday I posted some thoughts from Mark 2:1-12, but I really only made it through part of the story. So here are a couple of thoughts on the rest of the story. Let me know what you think about the passage.

Mark 2:1-12

New Living Translation (NLT)

When Jesus returned to Capernaum several days later, the news spread quickly that he was back home. Soon the house where he was staying was so packed with visitors that there was no more room, even outside the door. While he was preaching God’s word to them, four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. They couldn’t bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, so they dug a hole through the roof above his head. Then they lowered the man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “My child, your sins are forgiven.”

But some of the teachers of religious law who were sitting there thought to themselves, “What is he saying? This is blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins!”

Jesus knew immediately what they were thinking, so he asked them, “Why do you question this in your hearts? Is it easier to say to the paralyzed man ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk’? So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!”

And the man jumped up, grabbed his mat, and walked out through the stunned onlookers. They were all amazed and praised God, exclaiming, “We’ve never seen anything like this before!”

I’ve been thinking about this story in two parts. First, the friends and what they did to get the paralyzed man in front of Jesus. Second, I’m not sure Jesus’ response was what the guys were expecting.

It is pretty awesome to me that it is the faith of the friends that moves Jesus to respond. But I have been wondering if his first response was what the guys expected. At this point in the story, people have heard about Jesus healing people with incurable illnesses. So that makes me think the four guys were taking their friend to Jesus so he would heal him. But that was not Jesus’ first response. Did you read what Jesus said?

“My child, your sins are forgiven.”

It surprised people! I think it may have even surprised the four guys on the roof looking down. But here is what I think is significant about that.

Jesus knew what the guy really needed.

Even if his friends did not know the depth of the man’s need, Jesus knew and Jesus went straight to it. He went above and beyond their expectations. He takes care of the real issue (forgiveness of sin), and then Jesus turns back around and heals him physically too. People can’t believe it. They were amazed. I think the four friends had to be amazed as well!

So here is what this part of the story says to me:

Sometimes I don’t know what is needed, but Jesus does. And Jesus will do what only he can- if I will just go to him.

What about you- what does it say to you?


Inconvenience (or Mark 2, part 1)


Inconvenience.

I am not a fan.

But something stood out to me the last time I read Mark 2:1-12.

The story is basically this:

Jesus is becoming very popular and loads of people are coming to listen to him, see him, and watch what he might do next. So he is in a very crowded house talking with people. Four guys hear that he is close to where they are and they decide their friend needs to be brought to Jesus. They have to bring him because he is paralyzed and cannot walk on his own. So they carry him to the house- but the house is too full to get near Jesus. So plan B.

This is where it gets interesting. The guys decide to get on the roof of the house and remove the tiles that are the ceiling. Then they lower their friend down in front of Jesus.

Two things I can’t get past at this point in the story- First, they really had to go out of their way to make this happen. I know it’s great to do good things for a friend, but really, this was not convenient for them. Second, what was everyone thinking as tiles started moving overhead? This couldn’t have happened in just a split second. It must have taken a little bit of time. So what was everyone thinking? What was the house owner thinking? Why didn’t anyone speak up and say, “Hey, you guys want in here? You don’t have to pull the roof apart…” So what were they thinking?

On both sides I see an issue of inconvenience. It took a lot of work for the guys to get their friend to Jesus. Rather inconvenient. Their actions also interpreted everyone’s day. I am inclined to guess that no one offered to help them get into the house because it would be inconvenient for them.

So what do I learn from this? This is what:

Helping people get to Jesus is often “inconvenient.”

I don’t really think the guys anticipated that much trouble getting their friend to Jesus. It was not an easy task to get their friend to Jesus. But they were determined. They were sure if they got to Jesus, he would do something. But it took some work for them to get there.

But the value of placing their friend in front of Jesus outweighed any inconvenience.

The response of Jesus amazes me. Verse 5 says, “Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man…” The faith and the determination of the friends to get the paralyze guy in front of Jesus moved Jesus to act. This challenges me.

There are times that I find myself thinking I’m too busy or tired to spend time praying for someone (placing them in front of Jesus)- it feels “inconvenient.” But how can taking someone before Jesus be inconvenient? At least that is what I hear this story saying to me. The four guys did not allow a little inconvenience stand in the way of getting their friend to Jesus. So, seriously, what’s my excuse?

I don’t want to be part of the everyone in the house. It was not their faith that Jesus responded to. It looks like they allowed inconvenience to stop them from helping the guys get into the house. I don’t want to be part of them. So while somethings may be able to fall under “inconvenient,” I am learning to never think of it as inconvenient to help take my friends before Jesus.


Today’s Blog is Brought to You by….


Do you remember watching Sesame Street as a kid? Or maybe now you have a kid who enjoys a bit of time “where the air is sweet.” Either way, if you ever visited Sesame Street, then you know how nearly every episode is “Brought to you by the letter __.” One of the most famous letter sponsorships is the letter C. Cookie Monster is a serious star when the episode is brought Letter Cto us by the letter C! So each episode would emphasize learning a specific letter or number and it would show up in various segments through out the time. Quite cleaver teaching, really!

Recently I have felt like God has been trying to teach me something and it is like my life is being “brought to me by….” It amazes me and I really enjoy watching common themes rise to the surface of life (must be my Connectedness strength). Lately, I have thought that if someone could look into the lesson God has been teaching me, they could say, “This season of life is brought to you by PRAYER.”

Learning more about prayer has come up in so many pockets lately. Nothing extravagantly new has arisen. But the deep significance and importance of prayer is inescapable.

I found this in one of my readings during this Lent season. It’s an excerpt from a devotional by N.T. Wright, Lent for Everyone. It has been one of the things that is challenging me to take seriously my time in prayer.

Faith is like a small window through which you can see a vast landscape, and the landscape in question is the sovereign power of the creator God and the overwhelming glory of Jesus himself…. We stand at that window, doing our best to wipe it clean from the condensation of our own unbelieving breath, and holding on, as we do so, to those for whom we want to pray. When you read the stories of remarkable Christians down the years, and in our own time too, again and again you find tales of people who have stood at that window, gazing out on the landscape of God’s power and love, and gradually bringing the rest of the world, and the people for whom they were praying, into healing focus in relation to it. We need more people like that.

The most important Christians are not the ones who preach great sermons and write great books, but the ones who pray, and pray, and pray some more, sharing the quiet but effective victory of Jesus over all that defaces God’s creation.

What I have realized again, is that unless I actually make time, on purpose, to pray, it will not happen. That is kind of an obvious statement. But I have to admit that I am often guilty of saying I will pray about something, but then just thinking about it really quick while I’m headed to the next “thing.”  But if I do not make time to pray, then how can I ever help bring those around me into healing focus? Seeing God’s healing and restoration is something that I want to see! I believe I can help bring it about- but only by prayer.

You know, at the end of it, I think I my great hope is that when I reach the end of a day I can actually say, “Today was brought to you by PRAYER.” That would be pretty awesome.


Forgiveness


I have been learning more about prayer lately. The things I am learning are coming a lot from our time as a congregation praying. We have set aside time on Tuesday mornings to gather and pray. It has been incredible.Prayer

Learning to pray is significant. So significant that the disciples actually asked Jesus to teach them. Prayer was a very important part of Jesus’ activity. There are moments in scripture that describe him going off to pray all night. In Matthew 6, Jesus gives instructions on how to pray:

And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:5-15 ESV)

I have to admit that I struggle with that last part…. The part about my forgiveness for others influencing God’s forgiveness of me. One of the readings I came across during this Lent season described the connection between prayer and forgiveness in a very good way. It helped me so I wanted to share it with you.

If prayer is about heaven and earth coming together at one time, in one place, within the lump of clay we call ‘me’, then it’s going to change this person called ‘me’. In particular, it’s going to make me a forgiver. Jesus was quite clear about this. All of us have been hurt, wounded, slighted, annoyed by other people. How much more have we ourselves done that to God! Yet we want him to be with us, to hear us, and — yes! — to forgive us. How can we not be forgivers too?(N.T. Wright, Lent For Everyone,Day 7)

God is willing to forgive me. So why would I not forgive others? And how could I approach God without humility, knowing I am forgiven? And if I have been forgiven, then as I pray, I am changed and forgiving others is a natural response from time spent talking to the one who forgives me.