Casting My Anchor in the Port of Peace

I’m occasionally like praying other people’s prayers. By that, I mean praying out of books like the Book of Common Prayer and The Seven Sacred Pauses. I’ve chosen a prayer from The Valley of Vision, a collection of Puritan prayers and devotionals, that expresses the prayer of my heart right now. While I think it’s important to pray what’s in your heart as authentically as possible (even sighs and groans), I also believe that sometimes that prayer best comes out in somebody else’s words.

“My faith is in thee,
My expectation is from thee,
My love goes out toward thee,
I believe thee,
accept thy Word,
acquiesce in thy will,
rely on thy promises,
trust thy providence.
I bless thee that the court of conscience
proves me to be thine.
I do not need signs and wonders to believe,
for thy Word is sure truth.
I have cast my anchor in the port of peace,
knowing that present and future
are in nail-pierced hands.
Thou art so good, wise, just holy,
that no mistake is possible to thee.
Thou art fountain and source of all law;
what thou commandest is mine to obey.
I yield to thy sovereignty all that I am and have;
do thou with me as thou wilt.
Thou hast given me silence in my heart
in place of murmurings and complaints.
Keep my wishes from growing into willings,
my willings from becoming fault-finding
with thy providences,
and have mercy on me.
If I sin and am rebellious, help me to repent;
then take away my mourning and give me music;
remove my sackcloth and adorn me with beauty;
take away my sighs and fill my mouth with songs;
and when I am restored and rest in thee
give me summer weather in my heart” (The Valley of Vision).

The Serenity Prayer

“God, give us grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
Amen” (Reinhold Neibuhr).

Most people know this prayer, at least in part. Those who have been through Alcoholics Anonymous or some other kind of recovery program know this prayer very well.

I’m not attending AA, but I think this prayer speaks to my heart and to where I am at the moment.

My idea of happiness is that the world I live in will always be as I would have it and that I could obtain that supreme happiness in the here and now. It almost never involves hardship or suffering of any kind.

This prayer reminds me once again that it’s not about me. This life and this world don’t revolve around me and my wants and needs. However, I can make a difference both in my life and in the lives of those around me.

I’m still getting better and living one day at a time and enjoying one moment at a time. It seems my automatic default is to want to hurry on to the next season of life, which currently for me is fall and cooler temperatures.

This prayer teaches me to see things as they are, to step out of my fantasies and my dreams into the world that is, yet to not resign myself to it. By living in it as it is and being wise to know where I can make a difference, I do my very small part to make the world better than it is.

I think the two key words that are jumping off the page at me tonight are trust and surrender. If I can grab hold of those two concepts and really let them sink into my DNA, then I believe the rest of this prayer will follow.

May this be our prayer going forward to see that if there is to be any change in the world we live in, it must and will begin in each of us.

 

 

 

Prayer and the Pray-er

“Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good” (Romans 8:26-28, The Message).

Sometimes I feel like I should be a much better pray-er by now. I’ve had enough practice and amassed all this spiritual knowledge, yet when I actually take the time to pray in private, I get distracted and my mind wanders and I occasionally fall asleep.

I read about all these spiritual giants who would spend hours upon hours in prayer, yet for me even five minutes in dedicated prayer seems like an eternity.

Tonight, I was reminded that sometimes the truest prayers look and sound a lot like sighs and groans. Sometimes, the most spiritual kind of prayer is to confess your complete and utter helplessness to express what’s in your heart, knowing the Holy Spirit is able to translate those inaudible (and sometimes audible) yearnings into prayers that the Father hears.

I’ve mentioned before that sometimes the three best prayers are “Help,” “Thanks,” and “Wow.” Anne Lamott wrote an entire book about those prayers and I confess at times, those are the only words I can muster to express what’s in my heart.

It’s not my great faith in God that sustains me but rather my faith in a great big God that has carried me through seasons of so-called self-sufficiency and seasons of complete God-dependence.

On a side note: today is the seventh anniversary of my very first blog post all the way back in 2010. On another side note, I originally wrote that it was the sixth anniversary before my internal editor caught the mistake.

Thank you, God, that you are more faithful to me than I am to you, and that my destiny isn’t based on my faith in You but in Your faith in me.

 

A Prayer from Seven Years Ago

“Lord, I give up all my own plans and purposes, all my own desires and hopes, and accept Thy will for my life. I give myself, my life, my all, utterly to Thee to be Thine forever. Fill me and seal me with Thy Holy Spirit. Use me as Thou wilt. Send me where Thou wilt. Work out Thy whole will in my life at any cost, now and forever. Amen” (Betty Scott Stam).

I think that prayer is still very much applicable for me right now. I hope and pray it becomes the desire of all of our hearts from here into eternity.

Amen.

Take Your Time

One of my favorite Kairos moments from back in the day when Mike Glenn used to lead the prayer time.

Put both feet on the floor, he’d say. There’s nothing that will come up in the next few minutes that’s more important than what God’s saying to you right now. Relax and breathe. All those errands will still be there later. Right now, all you need to do is focus on God.

We live in a culture that celebrates busyness. Not necessarily productivity. Just busyness. The mantra of the age is that we don’t have time because we’re so very busy doing God knows what.

The idea is to never have a dull moment or any down time. We have all these time-saving gadgets that create more time to get more done. As a result, we have less leisure and free time than ever.

Maybe the most freeing words anyone will ever tell you– take your time. That was my takeaway from tonight’s Kairos message.

Sometimes, it’s good to focus on your breathing. It’s good to be silent and still. It’s good to rest. Above all, it’s important to be in the moment, not always thinking ahead to the next big event or thinking back to the what if’s and the could have been’s.

“There’s no present like the time.” That may be my new favorite line from a movie. Time is not infinite. You get a precious few years to live, too few to waste in busyness. Life is to be lived and savored and not merely gotten through.

Take your time.  Wherever you are, be all there. Do less but do it with everything you have, offering it as your spiritual act of worship. Enjoy the little things and pay attention to the moments in your life.

Also, take plenty of naps. Those are good.

 

 

 

A Quick Thought Before Bed

I had a thought. It’s completely unoriginal and by no means profound, but I think it’s something we all could do well to remember in these days ahead.

Prayer still works.

When you’re tempted to talk about somebody negatively, try praying for that person instead. That goes for political leaders, too.

I heard something recently that struck a chord with me. Instead of so much speaking out against the President, maybe we should try praying for him instead. That’s true whether we have an Obama or a Trump in the Oval Office.

None of us knows all the facts, but God does. None of us knows the best possible solution, but God does. None of us has the power to effect change in our circumstances and in the lives of others, but God can and God does all the time.

So pray a lot and gossip a whole lot less. Pray more and criticize less.

That’s it for tonight.

 

Being a Pray-er

I really believe some people have the spiritual gift of prayer.

I think that when some people go to pray, it’s as if words other than their own come pouring out and every word seems anointed and filled with power.

I know someone like that. He’s one of the fellow Kairos greeters that I’ve been blessed to get to know recently and he definitely has the gift of prayer.

Not everyone has that gift. Not everyone is as eloquent and poetic when they pray. But we’re all called to pray unceasingly in every situation.

I’ve come to believe that some of the best prayers come from people who aren’t the best pray-ers. Some of the best prayers don’t have words.

Sometimes, it’s prostrating yourself on the floor and opening up your hands in a gesture of complete surrender.

Sometimes, it’s silence and tears when the words won’t come.

Sometimes it’s a simple two-word mantra repeated over and over, such as “Help me, help me, help me” or “Thank you, thank, you thank you.”

Sometimes it’s sitting in adoration and basking in the glory of God without asking for anything at all.

You may not consider yourself a good pray-er, but you can still pray. You are still called to pray, no matter how fluent you are or whether you stumble all over yourself when asked to pray in public.

All that you need to pray is a sincere heart and a simple faith. That’s it.

That said, I still love to hear people pray who have the gift of prayer. I knew a guy in Memphis who had as dramatic a testimony as I’ve ever heard, and when he opened his mouth to pray in a group setting, the Spirit moved. He prayed with more authority and confidence in God’s sovereignty than I have ever heard from anybody else.

But I think the prayers that impresses and touches the heart of God the most are the ones you and I pray every morning and every night with a childlike trust and dependence that God is absolutely able to do whatever we ask of Him. Those are His favorites.

The Comforter

There’s a great book by Francis Chan called The Forgotten God. The gist is that so many pay little heed to the third member of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit.

I’m learning more and more of what the Holy Spirit’s role is and how He affects my life on a daily basis. He is called the Paraclete, literally one who walks alongside of us to guide and encourage and comfort and convict and challenge us.

One of my favorite aspects of the Holy Spirit is that when I am at a loss for words, He takes my sighs and groans and tears too deep for words and interprets those into prayers that God hears.

There have been lots of times when I simply can’t find the words. Many times, I just can’t corral my mind into any sort of coherent prayer. Even in the middle of stress and panic, the words that are buried in my heart can find their way to the throne room of Heaven, thanks to the Holy Spirit. Often, the prayers that God answers are far better than any that I could have thought up on my own left to my own devices.

So many are on their knees tonight with sighs and sobs and groans and tears as their prayers. Thanks to the Holy Spirit, their prayers are heard and God is with them in the midst of their anguish and grief and pain.

Holy Spirit, be near all those who cry out in pain and all whose grief is too deep for words. Be their Comforter and Advocate in their darkest hours. Be their voice when they can’t find their own.

In case you’re interested in the book I mentioned earlier, I’ve provided a link for you to follow and purchase it if you want:

A Pre-Lent Lenten Prayer

“A lenten prayer to avoid entitlement from Richard Rohr:

‘Maybe we all should begin our days with a litany of satisfaction, abundance, and enoughness. God, you have given me another day of totally gratuitous life: my health, my eyes, my ears, my mind, my taste, my family, my freedom, my education, clean water, more than enough food, a roof over my head, a warm bed and blanket, friends, sunshine, a beating heart, and your eternal love and guidance.

To any one of these we must say, “And this is more than enough!'”

Ok, I know we’re not quite to Lent season just yet. I realize that Mardi Gras and Ash Wednesday are two weeks away (and Mardi Gras just happens to fall on my birthday this year, which is neat).

Still, this applies to any season of the year or of life. Gratitude is the gift that never goes  out of style and never becomes obsolete. Joy is as much of an art and a discipline as it is a gift because while it’s free, it takes effort and stamina to fully realize and appreciate it.

I should probably at some point tape these words from Richard Rohr to my bathroom mirror so that they are the first thing I see when I wake up. Or maybe I should post them somewhere I will see them AFTER I’ve had that all-important first cup of coffee.

I need reminding often of how blessed  I truly am. It’s easy in a culture that promotes dissatisfaction and envy to look at all that’s missing from my life and all that I don’t have. That can lead to despair.

Joy starts with being content with such things that I have already. Gratitude is the way we see God’s provident hand everywhere working in everything. Even on Mondays.

 

 

You Are Not the God We Would Have Chosen

Sometimes, it’s good to pray scripted prayers. Not all the time, but some times.

Sometimes, you have no words and need to borrow the words of those who have been where you are and voiced your words to God.

I think this prayer may soon qualify as one of my borrowed prayers:

We would as soon you were stable and reliable.
We would as soon you were predictable
and always the same toward us.
We would like to take the hammer of doctrine
and take the nails of piety
and nail your feet to the floor
and have you stay in one place.

And then we find you moving,
always surprising us,
always coming at us from new directions.
Always planting us
and uprooting us
and tearing all things down
and making all things new.
You are not the God we would have chosen
had we done the choosing,
but we are your people
and you have chosen us in freedom.
We pray for the great gift of freedom
that we may be free toward you
as you are in your world.
Give us that gift of freedom
that we may move in new places
in obedience and in gratitude.

Thank you for Jesus
who embodied your freedom for all of us. Amen” (Walter Brueggemann, Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth: Prayers by Walter Brueggemann).