July 10, 2013 Prayers of the Faithful

Do you have a favorite prayer? Is there a phrase or blessing that you repeat regularly, especially when you are lost for words at the feet of your Divine Maker and still feel compelled to speak? Luckily, God has shared with us many of his faithful followers and their prayers. Their words often times fill the need, the void, and give strength to the soul while connecting our spirits to our Creator. Gifts from God!

To be perfectly honest, I’m a fan. Sure, I like to speak to God directly from my heart or sit down and write out my own words, words given to me by God, words I heard spoken from another, or words that come from a broken, human spirit….but sometimes, words fail me (sitting in silence allows us to listen to God. Do not feel that you must always have something to say. God will put words on your heart if they are needed as you place yourself before him.)  Sometimes my mind and heart need a little oomph, a little encouragement. Today, I offer you a few of my favorites….when I am lost for words ( I know, I know—when am I ever lost for words!) and need a little push opening my heart to my Savior. Some of these are “newer” prayers while some are directly from scripture. Please read all the way through to the end of the post, and then with your Bible, look up the last few.

When I am about to eat or am preparing food…

“Bless, oh Lord, this food to our use, and us to thine loving service. And keep us ever mindful of the needs of others, through Christ our Lord.  Amen.”

 

The Prayer of St. Francis—committing your heart and soul to Christ’s work

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is doubt, faith;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;

Where there is sadness, joy.

 

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;

To be understood as to understand;

To be loved as to love.

 

For it is in giving that we receive;

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;

And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.

 

A Scottish Blessing….

Personally, this is one of my all-time favorites. Part of it is my cultural ancestry. Part of it is the poetry of the prayer. (Plus, I really love nature) Part of it is that I feel the writer had discovered the spirit of the living God burning inside his soul, and attempting (in human fashion) to relate a passion for life, a spirit of Grace, and restoration to his people through an eternal, living God wrote these words.  I will often personalize it….Lord, may the blessing of your light be upon me….may your blessed light shine on me like a great peat fire, etc. (people are drawn to the light of our Lord!).

May the blessing of light be upon you — light without and light within. May the blessed sunlight shine on you like a great peat fire, so that stranger and friend may come and warm himself at it. And may the light shine out of the two eyes of you, like a candle in the window of a house, bidding the wanderer to come in out of the storm.

 And may the blessing of rain be upon you—may it beat upon your Spirit and wash it fair and clean, and leave there a shining pool where the blue of Heaven shines, and sometimes a star.

 And may the blessing of the earth be upon you, soft under your feet as you pass along the roads, soft under you as you lie out on it, tired at the end of the day; and may it rest easy over you when, at last, you lie out under it. May it rest so lightly over you that your soul may be out from under it quickly; up and off and on its way to God.

 And now, may the Lord bless you, and bless you kindly. Amen.

 

This next one I will let speak for itself. I have not suffered nearly what many of the faithful have. But to offer your heart in the smallest suffering, to offer your soul to your Savior and give him praise is a hard lesson for most of us to learn. This particular prayer, while listed as written by “Anonymous,” was pulled from an old Presbyterian Planner. It tugs at my heart so much so that I have it pinned to the wall by my front door, so that I must see it every day as I enter into the world.

To our eternal and faithful shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ:

Shepherd, I bless you for what you give me. If nothing you give me, I also do bless you.

 I follow you laughing through roses and thorns, through brambles and thistles I joyously follow.

With you when there’s plenty, with you when I want.

Still always with you.

 

Now it’s time to do a little Scripture reading.

These are just a few of the prayers in the Bible:

By Paul :

Colossians 1:9-12

Ephesians 3:14-21 ( I just LOVE Paul’s Words at the end of this passage)

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Ephesians 1:15-23

I encourage you to continue looking up and researching prayers. The Lord himself offered up prayers to our Heavenly Father. Words of passion, beauty, and life. Most of us know “the Lord’s Prayer” by heart. If not, now’s a great time to commit it to memory.

What is your favorite prayer? Is there a particular word from Scripture, from God’s faithful followers that speaks to your heart? Have you heard someone pray so honestly that the connection between themselves and God still rings in your ears?

We pray because we believe that God hears us.  With that being said, may you be filled with prayer, body and soul! Amen!

July 3 Lessons from the Dog

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Last week, my not so little sister (she’s 28!) was telling me a story about the family dog, Abby.  Abs is precious. She’s red, she’s fast, and she LOVES everyone. But Abs has a tendency to destroy things. Not on a regular basis, like the daily opening the door after work only to see that it’s snowed memory foam mattress cover bits all over your house….Abs destroys things mostly under duress. When she stresses out, things get messy. When she thinks you’ve left her and are never coming back, she shreds something. When the 4th of July comes, well…..you had better watch out. No screen door is safe.

Jewels was relaying one of the latest moments of checking in on Abby. At the peak of her story, as she was gently chiding the dog, she had one of those God epiphanies. She said that God, in his infinite wisdom, was using her teachings for the dog to teach her how much he loves her, loves us, and how we become the pup staring brokenhearted, back at our Master, awaiting the discipline that we apparently, desperately need. It goes a little something like this…

“___________ (Insert name here)  why did you do this?  Look at this mess. This wasn’t a great decision. I told you no because I know what’s best for you.

Dog hangs head in shame, tail wagging in hopes that its master will still love it. After all, the dog doesn’t mean to be destructive. They’re just a little, you know, insane.

“_________ (insert your name here) I love you so much! (Arms reach out) But we need to work on this. (This means discipline and diligence) Alright, let me clean this up and we’ll start again. You must listen to my instructions. I really do understand, but I also know what’s best for you. Let’s try this again, okay?

I have had similar, simpler conversations with my dog, Bailey. (The other dog is not a chewer, praise Jesus!) I’m almost convinced she understands… and just can’t seem to help herself.  Last week she literally ate my phone. In 3 minutes flat. The damage was pretty impressive. Remember the comment about the memory foam mattress cover? I hadn’t even taken it out of the bag yet. Ready for what happened yesterday? Bailey—ate my undergarment, pooped in my closet, tried to eat the remote control, knocked over the dog water in her excitement about dinner coming, peed on my freshly steamed carpet (minutes before potty time), and tried to chew on my library book. My just checked out from the library yesterday afternoon, library book. I won’t even go into the disaster area my living room usually is when I come home. I have no idea where she finds the stuff, and there isn’t a bone on the planet, nylabone, beef leg, etc., that can stop her. It requires the reinforcement of discipline. Discipline with love, and teaching her not to fear me, but to respect my commands.

Dogs. (Just wait till we talk about cats. Jesus must REALLY love us.)

I understand she’s a puppy. I understand that as far as puppies go, she learns fast, she remembers quite well, and she does what I tell her….for the most part. After all, when I say “Drop it” she spits whatever is in her mouth, out. I also understand that she is destructive without malice, and that because she is undisciplined, she makes poor decisions. Sound familiar?

Each day we wake,  go about our routines, and fumble through the undisciplined areas of our lives. It brings us shame…almost a “no, no, bad dog” feeling of shame when we have to face those we are accountable too. It’s hard. It’s uncomfortable. And learning the discipline is unpleasant. Bailey gets quarantined until we can clean up the mess and then isn’t allowed her treat (if we catch her in the act).  Because I love her, I let her back in to my living space, back onto her spot on the end of the sofa, and continue to teach her that the only things she is allowed to chew on are her bones.  I use the “good dog” voice when she goes potty outside and stays when I command it. I continue to teach her (hopefully with patience) no matter how much destruction she causes. Why? Because she is mine and I love her.

How much more are we to the Almighty maker of heaven and earth? We are his children! And because he loves us, he stands over us (like an umbrella or protective parent, not a towering giant of terror), corrects our wrongs, and continues to teach us what is right, all with the gentlest, truest love we’ll ever be blessed to know. Amen!

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Hebrews 12:4-11

God Disciplines His Children

4 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”

7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Job 5:17

“Blessed is the one whom God corrects;
so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty