Monday, October 12, 2009

The Five Finger Prayer

Your thumb is nearest to you. So begin your prayers by praying for those closest to you. They are the easiest to remember. To pray for our loved ones is, as C. S. Lewis once said, "a sweet duty."

The next finger is the pointer finger. Pray for those who teach, instruct, and heal. This includes teachers, doctors, and ministers. They need support and wisdom in pointing others in the right direction. Keep them in your prayers.

The next finger is the tallest finger. It reminds us of our leaders. pray for the president, leaders in business and industry, and administrators. These people shape our nation and guide public opinion. They need God's guidance.

The fourth finger is our ring finger. Surprising to many is the fact that this is our weakest finger; as an piano teacher will testify. It should remind us to pray for those who are weak, in trouble, or in pain. They need your prayers day and night. You cannot pray too much for them.

Lastly comes our pinkie; the smallest finger of all, which is where we should place ourselves in relation to God and others. As the Bible says, "the least shall be the greatest among you." Your pinkie should remind you to pray for yourself. By the time you have prayed for the other four groups, your own needs will be put into proper perspective and you will be able to pray for yourself more effectively.

Author Unknown

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Be Sincere

We often say our prayers,
But do we ever pray?
And do the wishes of our heart
Go with the words we say?

We may as well kneel down
And worship gods of stone
As offer to the living God
A prayer of words alone.

For words without the heart
The Lord will never hear,
Nor will He to those lips attend
Whose prayers are not sincere.

Author Unkown

Monday, September 28, 2009

More On Prayer

Every time we pray, our horizon is altered, our attitude to things is altered, not sometimes but every time, and the amazing thing is that we don't pray more. (Oswald Chambers)

It would be rash to say that there is any prayer in which God never grants. But the strongest candidate is the prayer we might express in the single word encore. (C. S. Lewis)

When life knocks you to your knees--well, that's the best position in which to pray, isn't it? (Ethel Barrymore)

Satan trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon his knees. (William Cowper & John Newton)

Any revitalization of faith in this country will have to start with prayer, in which we gain a sense of the living presence of God. (George H. Gallup, Jr.)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

On Prayer

I have often learned more in prayer than I have been able to glean from much reading and reflection. (Martin Luther)

He who prays fervently knows not whether he prays or not, for he is not thinking of the prayer which he makes, but of God, to whom he makes it. (Francis de Sales)

The penalty of not praying is the loss of one's capacity to pray. (Edward J. Farrell)

To pray is the greatest thing we can do, and to do it well, there must be calmness, time, and deliberation. (E. M. Bounds)

In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than words without heart. (John Bunyan)

I am often, I believe, praying for others when I should be doing things for them. It's so much easier to pray for a bore than to go and see him. (C. S. Lewis)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

O Give Thanks to the Lord

O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;
for His steadfast love endures forever.
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
those He redeemed from trouble
and gathered in from the lands,
from the east and from the west,
from the north and from the south. . . .

For He satisfies the thirsty,
and the hungry he fills with good things. . . .

He brought them out of darkness and gloom,
and He saved them from their distress. . . .

He sent out His word and healed them,
and delivered them from destruction. . . .

Let those who are wise give heed to these things,
and consider the steadfast love of the Lord.

(Excerpted from Psalm 107, NRSV)

Friday, September 25, 2009

A Child's Prayer

God make my life a little light,
Within the world to glow;
A tiny flame that burneth bright
Wherever I may go.
God make my life a little flower,
That giveth joy to all,
Content to bloom in native bower,
Although its place be small.
God make my life a little song,
That comforteth the sad;
That helpeth others to be strong,
And makes the singer glad.
God make my life a little staff,
Whereon the weak may rest,
That so what health and strength I have
May serve my neighbors best.

(M. Bentham-Edwards)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Three Things

I know three things must always be
To keep a nation strong and free
One is a hearthstone bright and dear
With busy, happy loved ones near
One is a ready heart and hand
To love and serve and keep the land
One is a worn and beaten way
To where the people go to pray
So long as these are kept alive
Nation and people will survive
God keep them always everywhere
The home, the heart, the place of prayer

Author Unknown

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The prayer of Psalm 84

How lovely is your tabernacle, O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.
Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young--
even Your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in Your house;
they will still be prising You.
Blessed is the man whose strength is in You,
whose heart is set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a spring;
the rain also covers it with pools.
They go from strength to strength;
each one appears before God in Zion.
O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer;
give ear, O God of Jacob.
O God, behold our shield, and look upon the face of your annointed.
For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
the Lord will give grace and glory;
no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.
O Lord of hosts, blessed in the man who trusts in You!

King James Version

Sunday, February 15, 2009

We plow the fields and scatter
the good seed on the land,
but it is fed and watered
by God's almighty hand.
He sends the snow in the winter,
the warmth to swell the grains,
the breeze and the sunshine,
and soft refreshing rain.
He only is the Maker
of all things near and far.
He paints the wayside flowers,
He lights the evening star.
The winds and waves obey Him;
by Him the birds are fed;
much more to us, His children,
He gives our daily bread.
We thank Thee, then, O Father,
for all things bright and good,
the seed time and the harvest,
our life, our health, our food.
Accept the gifts we offer,
for all Thy love imparts,
and, what Thous most desirest,
our humble, thankful hearts.

Author Unknown

Friday, February 13, 2009

Columnist Herb Caen wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle: "Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn't matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle; when the sun comes up, you'd better be running."

Charles Spurgeon writes likewise, "If you are not seeking the Lord, the Devil is seeking you. If you are not seeking the Lord, judgment is at your heels."

In the Christian life, it's not enough to simply wake up. We are called to run, to become more like Christ, to press ahead in godliness.

Author Unknown

Sunday, January 25, 2009

When the promises of love
are first made to us,
Our hearts overflow
with ecstasy.
We never dreamed such happiness
could ever be ours--
the love,
the warmth,
the acceptance,
The promise of a future
alive with excitement
and joy.
But when the promises are broken,
the love vanishes,
the hope disappears,
And we feel so empty
and alone.

And we wonder in despair,
'What did I say
to bring about such change?
What did I do
to turn away such love?
Am I not worthy
of another's love?
Am I no good at all?"

God hears those cries
of our broken hearts.
He promises to stay
especially close to us
Until our hearts are mended
and our wounds
are healed.

Author Unknown

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Cast your cares on the Lord
and he will sustain you;
He will never let the righteous fall.
Psalm 55.22

Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

Psalm 43.5

I will exalt you, O Lord,
for you lifted me out of the depths. . . .
O Lord my God,
I called to you for help
and you healed me.

Psalm 30.1-2

The Lord delights in the way of man
whose steps he has made firm;
Though he stumble,
he will not fall,
For the Lord upholds him
with his hand.
Psalm 37.23-24

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Everyone hurts
at one time
or another.
Sometimes the hurts
are relatively minor
and tend to go away
by themselves,
but at other times
the hurts
are so intense
that we wonder
whether they will
ever go away.
God does not promise
that his children
will have no hurts
in this life,
but God wants you to know
that every hurt of yours
is of concern
to him,
and he graciously
invites you
to cast all your cares
on him,
because HE cares
about YOU.

Author Unknown

Sunday, January 18, 2009

If you put a buzzard in a pen eight feet square and entirely open at the top, the bird, in spite of its ability to fly, will be an absolute prisoner. The reason: a buzzard always begins a flight from the ground with a run of ten to twelve feet. Without space to run, as is his habit, he will not even attempt to fly, but will remain a prisoner for life in a small jail with no ceiling.

The ordinary bat, a remarkably nimble creature in the air, cannot take off from a level place. If it is placed on the floor or flat ground, all it can do is shuffle about helplessle and, no doubt, painfully, until it reaches some slight elevation from which it can throw itself up into the air. Then, at once, it takes off like a flash.

A bumblebee, if dropped into a open tumbler, will be there until it dies, unless it is taken out. It never sees the means of escape at the top, but persists in trying to find some way out through the sides near the bottom. It will seek a way where none exists, until it completely destroys itself.

In many ways, there are lots of people like the buzzard, the bat, and the bee. They are struggling with all their problems and frustrations, not realizing that the answer is righ there above them.

May we always look up and put our trust in the Lord.

Author Unknown

Saturday, January 17, 2009

'Tis not enough to bend the knee,
And words of prayer to say;
The heart must with the lips agree;
Or else we do not pray.

For words, without the heart,
The Lord will never hear;
Nor will he to those lips attend,
Whose prayers are not sincere.

Author Unknown

Thursday, January 15, 2009

An excerpt from Henri Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son (Doubleday, 1992).

For most of my life I have struggled to find God, to know God, to love God. I have tried hard to follow the guidelines of spiritual life--pray always, work for others, read the Scriptures--and to avoid the many temptations to dissipate myself. I have failed many times but always tried again, even when I was close to despair.

Now I wonder whether I have sufficiently realized that during all this time God has been trying to find me, to know me, and to love me. The question is not "How am I to find God?" but "How am I to let myself be found by him?" The question is not "How am I to know God?" but "How am I to let myself be known by God?" And, finally, the question is not "How am I to love God?" but "How am I to let myself be loved by God?" God is looking into the distance for me, trying to find me, and longing to bring me home.

It might sound strange, but God want too find me as much as, if not more than, I want to find God. yes, God needs me as much as I need God. God is not the patriarch who stays home, doesn't move, and expects his children to come to him, apologize for their aberrant behavior, beg for forgiveness, and promise to do better. To the contrary, he leaves the house, ignoring his dignity by running toward them, pays no heed to apologies and promises of change, and brings them to the table richly prepared for them.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Henri Nouwen, a great champion of prayer, conducted an interview with Youthworker in 1993 on the subject of prayer. Here is Nouwen's response to the question, "What exactly is prayer?"

Prayer is listening to God. It's listening to God who calls us his beloved son or his beloved daughter. Remember when Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan River? He heard a word that came down from heaven: "You are my beloved Son." That word basically announced his identity--who he was. And it was on the basis of that identity that Jesus lived his life--as the Beloved, the one who was intimately connected to the Father.

When we pray, then, we listen to God to hear his voice--to find out who we really are. We are his beloved children.

What is important is that we continue to listen to God's voice and not become distracted by the voices of the world that tell us other things, things that cause us to lose our true identity. We need to set aside certain moments of each day to pray, not because God needs us to pray, but because we need to be reminded by God of who we truly are. We need to constantly be in touch with what our lives are all about.

Prayer can also become a way of living. it can permeate all of life. We can pray as we drive a car, as we work, as we talk to people. In that sense, all of life can become a prayer.

An excerpt from "Gazing at Jesus: A conversation with Henri Nouwen about the discipline of contemplative prayer," Youthworker (Spring 1993): 38-44.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Where is God?

The Lord is before his people. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice (John 10.4).

The Lord is behind his people. O Lord, you have searched me and known me. . . . You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me (Psalm 139.1, 5).

The Lord is above his people. More majestic than the thunders of mighty waters, more majestic than the waves of the sea, majestic on high is the Lord (Psalm 93.4).

The Lord is beneath his people. Listen to me, o house of Jacob, all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been borne by me from your birth, carried from the womb; even to your old age I am he, even when you turn gray I will carry you (Isaiah 46.3-4).

The Lord is around his people. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people, from this time on and forevermore (Psalm 125.2).

The Lord is with his people. "Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel," which means, "God is with us." . . . . and remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age (Matthew 1.23; 28.20).

The Lord is in the midst of his people. The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love (Zephaniah 3.17).

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Give me, O God, the wisdom that I need
To mold the tender lives within my care;
Give me the power that I may subtly lead
Them into righteousness--true joy is there.

I ask for them no rainbowed path of ease;
I ask for them no store of wealth or fame;
I only ask that by their lives they please
Thee and the world with an untarnished name.

I know that man is weak, and life is strong,
And sometimes honest roads look very drear;
That winning laurels often takes too long
And luring vistas from all sides appear.

But while my young are still beneath my wing,
God, help me guide them right in everything.

Author Unknown

Friday, January 9, 2009

I will exalt you, O Lord,
for you lifted me out of the depths
and did not let my enemies gloat over me.

O Lord my God, I called to you for help
and you healed me.
O Lord, you brought me up from the grave;
you spared me from going down into the pit.

Sing to the Lord, you saints of his;
praise his holy name.
For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may remain for a night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.

When I felt secure, I said,
"I will never be shaken."
O Lord, when you favored me,
you made my mountain stand firm;
but when you hid your face,
I was dismayed.

To you, O Lord, I called;
to the Lord I cried for mercy:
"What gain is there in my destruction,
in my going down to the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
Will it proclaim your faithfulness?
Hear, o Lord, and be merciful to me;
O Lord, be my help."

You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
that my heart may sing to you and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever.

The prayer of Psalm 30 (NIV)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Oh, the depths of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?
Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay him?
For from him and through him and to him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.

Romans 11.33-36 (NIV)