Tag Archives: prayer

Traveling The Valley Of Shadows

I gathered with loved ones to see a star. A star whose light was changing but was still beautiful and at times younger somehow. This star shone despite death’s dark shadow which loomed over the valley where we were, like storm clouds forming in the distance we each knew what was coming.

The line in psalm 23 The Lords My Shepherd, speaks of such a valley, the valley of the shadow of death. This psalm that is still fresh in the memory, one that we see written on cards or spoken at funerals. This is not a valley I am particularly familiar with, though I have repeated the psalm many times. There is another line in its narrative that reads.

“his rod and staff guides me…”

This line gives gives me a sense of forward motion, that it had a purpose. God knew my questions and heartache. Within such moments scripture was read, in the quiet prayerfulness of my private space, it was like holding onto the actual staff of the good shepherd. Just as a child holds it’s parents hand, walking and moving in synchronicity matching the gait of the step and each twist and turn.

To my surprise the valley was a place where love deepened. The shadows had not halted the growth of these precious blooms. Love was experienced in the nurses and doctors care, in the embrace of family, the quiet kiss good bye on the forehead, of the one whose starlight was passing from our awareness to something beyond. Love shone in the glisten of tear filled eyes, and the vigil kept day and night.

As we journeyed together there was occasional laughter, and abundant generosity, where people showed up the best of who they are, to pay respect to the one who was leaving so soon.

Silence would settle like a warm blanket between conversation, people lost in their own thoughts, or listening for the slightest change that indicated that her light was changing.

She was the star in the room, those gathered loved the star that was changing before our eyes, until we could no longer perceive her light anymore.

I am grateful for her light that guided me. However her light carries onwards, into the place Jesus prepares. We can discern the light in our relationships, in the reasons behind the choices we make, in the gifts we share. Giving our lives shape, depth of meaning, and teaching us values of substance that lead us forward.

Farewell Irene.

Keeping Faith: In Celebration

What do I mean keeping faith in celebration? Is it about coping with others who are in a celebratory mood? Holding onto God when you are struggling and all your friends are full of faith, Godly expectations, and stories to support the awesome richness of what the Lord is doing in their lives?

Well I would like us to explore a different idea today.  One that is about keeping faith when faith is easy, when it’s fun and struggle is minimal or non existent. I am not sure we ever settle in those moments, but perhaps we don’t push as hard to deepen our walk with God? Discuss.

I am not saying struggle is good, but that some struggle helps us to strive for more of God, a deeper walk, a greater awareness of the presence of the Lord in our own lives. To be clear, I mostly struggle rather than find being a disciple easy!

You are probably familiar with the story in Luke’s gospel when Jesus heals ten blokes who have leprosy. This was a disease that meant you were socially excluded from your community and ended up living together with other Lepers.

So when Jesus heals them, not only are they physically healed, but also socially healed and reunited with their families. Pretty awesome right, and these ten guys are pretty jubilant, who wouldn’t be. If you have just been healed from a crippling disease and have not seen your family, for who knows how long what would you do next?

Well as the story goes one bloke, yes that’s right one bloke, turns back to Jesus. Perhaps he had no family to see, or no friends, or just no better place to be. But like Mary in the Mary and Martha story, he chose right.  The others chose to be preoccupied with, and understandably so, celebrating with fa
mily and friends and being reintroduced into society.

But this bloke knelt at Jesus’ feet and worshiped, he somehow recognised the enormity of what was happening around him, turning back to worship.  He didn’t sing a few hymns or read scripture, he laid himself out before Jesus, acknowledging who it was who had healed him, who saved him from the incarceration that is this disease.

tebow-2-620x362We have all seen the athlete who takes a moment in a stadium of thousands, kneeling on the ground and point their finger in the air or sign the cross.  There is a need when life is good, when life is amazing, to take a moment, to recognise, to honour God, for the talent, opportunity, air in your lungs, or whatever, that has come your way.

Remember to take a moment in whatever way is comfortable, like the Samaritan in the story of the 10 lepers did. To be vulnerable before God, recognising whilst you might be blessed or honoured or lifted up, there is one who is greater still, creator of all that is and is to come, author and perfecter of all that makes you, well you.

Sometimes we may think we can only speak to God when our chips are down and life sucks? We may think that we can only ask when we are in need, we can only follow Jesus when we are broken.

If we truly believe we are in a relationship with the living God, that is a two way thing. Let’s not be the friend who is always saying what’s wrong or focuses on the darkness, but also speak to the Lord of what lights up your life as well.

Tell Jesus about cherished dreams that get fulfilled, thank him for the prayer that does get answered and ask him to seal it in your hearts and memories, for when we doubt and when faith doesn’t come easy. So when those times come, when we get a little lost and distant from God, we can remember how good God is and can be, and may that light bring us home to a God who knows our name, who we are, and loves us tremendously truly, and eternally. A God who puts things in our way more than we could imagine or ever have hoped for.

How To Pray- Bruce Almighty Style!

For summer break I am reposting some golden old posts, enjoy! Will be back with fresh material in September. Enjoy and have a great summer. 🙂

 

Do take a look at the above link first, its brilliant. It’s from Bruce almighty, the bit where God (Morgan freeman) asks Bruce (Jim Carey) to pray. Bruce prays for world peace, and God encourages him to do more, he encourages him to pray from the heart.

Bruce then prays a brilliant prayer about the women he loves that she will be happy and loved, as he (Bruce) loves her through gods eyes! It’s a powerful and emotional prayer.

Hollywood is making an important distinction here between prayer and prayer, the one that is heart-felt and the one that goes no deeper than vocal cords.

I consider myself a praying man, but I am challenged by Bruce Almighty’s character. I wonder if you pray like he does. For me I am not sure I have regularly prayed that way.

Opening up the deep places of our hearts, the depths of our soul, where the demons lurk, where and the scars are hidden, where the things that trigger tears dwell. Is scary, but also the key to a deepening walk with the living God, as we share our darkness and depths with him, we might find our burdens lifted even just a little.

We might just hear God with a greater clarity, and see the world, the poor the hungry, one another, and perhaps ourselves through Gods eyes and in that we become free, as we speak with our most trusted companion.

 

First published July 2013

A Little Bit Of Patience

As we pray how often do we expect and indeed want instant answers to our prayer requests? It is hard when we have to wait, when this doesn’t happen, doubt can creep in and uncertainty about whether God cares. But perhaps sometimes, we need to take a longer view. Have you ever considered whether or not you are ready for what you prayed for?

Are we ready for the responsibility, of wealth, marriage, children, that awesome job or something else. Is there perhaps some thing in, God not answering immediately, that God is trying to actually say something. Could he be saying we aren’t ready? Or there is something else I need you to do before you will get your hearts desire, if your hearts desire is his of course!

Some numbers, 5 years ago I prayed to become a father, and am radically different to what I was all those years ago, the journey has made me better prepared as a parent. 10 years ago I prayed and felt called to be an ordained minister and that took a very long time indeed, but no doubt a better minister for it. (At least I hope so!!)

Just because God doesn’t answer something straight away, doesn’t mean he won’t answer it in his own time. and as you wait, after you have given that hoped for prize to God and said that prayer, try to get on with your life, because living your life might be just what God wants you to do, so through this living, you might find he answers your prayer after all.

Lord give me the courage to be patient, the wisdom to see the big picture, and openness to allow you to search me and mould me as we journey onwards. Amen

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