Make My Life a Prayer – Introspection

This post is my brainstorm for post content for my virtual retreat coming up in August.  If it looks disjointed and sporadic, or at times appears that I go from talking to my audience to talking to myself…well, welcome to my world.  Mostly, I just need a landing pad for my thoughts and inspirations to collect.  This is the best way I’ve found to do so.  I plan to use it as such, and will post it as sort of an epilogue after the retreat.  (it will not be edited and pretty…as I have other pressing things to do with my time and brain cells than worry about the aesthetics of this post)

I thought it best to focus on one subject, and mentally chose the very broad topic of “prayer”, with the thought of going through the Lord’s prayer as a guide.  You know, the one from Matthew 6 and Luke 11.  The “Our Father” for my Catholic friends.  I think this is better named “The Disciple’s Prayer” because it is at their request that Jesus teach them to pray…but I digress.

I started by looking up the passage in my favorite version (NRSVCE) and got sidetracked onto sort of a bunny trail.  As I was reading the instructions on prayer that Jesus gave to his disciples, I started to wonder about how Jesus prayed.  All that came to mind at first was when he prayed for us to be one as He and the Father are one, and His prayers on the cross “why have you forsaken me?” and “Father forgive them” and, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit”, so I went on a hunt for other prayers he prayed.

Um. Wow.  Just…wow.

Luke 5:16 reads, “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”  Now, I am, by nature, a social being.  I like to be around people, I don’t usually like my own company…or haven’t learned to fully appreciate it yet…I like talking, and laughing, and interacting.  While I agree, that it’s biblical and wise to pull away sometimes from the noise of the crowd to hear what the Lord wants to say to us,  it does not come naturally for me, and I struggle to make it habit in my own personal life.  Over the past three years, I have found myself in lonely circumstances that the Lord has graciously used to speak rich truths to my heart that I would not otherwise have heard.  I wonder if that would have been completely necessary if I had developed the habit of withdrawing myself away first?  Hmmmm.

In Matthew 19, children were brought to Jesus so He could lay His hands on and pray for them.  Though we are told that he prayed, we aren’t told exactly what he prayed.  What we are told is that he rebuked the disciples who wanted to keep them away, saying “don’t forbid them to come…the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to them”

In Luke 3, Jesus was praying after being baptized and received an audible answer from His Father.  “Thou art my beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased.”  Oh, how I’d love to hear the Lord speak those words out loud to me!  Lyn, you are my beloved daughter, I’m so pleased with you!  I often wonder if I am pleasing God…how can we know?

In Luke 9, when He fed the 5,000, he prayed to heaven, blessed the fish and loaves, and a miracle occurred.  In the same chapter, we see the account of the Transfiguration.  His appearance and countenance were changed here, and as He prayed, he had company…communion with the saints, if you will…Moses and Elijah joined him and talked of the coming mission He was to accomplish at Jerusalem.

An entire chapter of the Bible is devoted to The Lord’s Prayer…that is Jesus’ prayer for His disciples.  John 17 is packed with Jesus’ thoughts and aspirations for His followers.  I love the thought of Him praying for me, and have started contemplating using it alongside “the disciples’ prayer” as a guide in my own prayer time.  I don’t know about you, but I get pretty wrapped up in praying for myself and my own needs.  There is nothing wrong with that in itself, He tells us to cast our cares on Him because He cares for us, but Jesus set a wonderful example of being the opposite of self-centered in prayer.

In John 11,  before He raised Lazarus from the dead, Jesus prayed for those who were witnessing this miracle to believe that it was God who sent Him….He prayed similarly in John 17  “that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

In Matthew 26, He prays in Gethsemane  “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.” and “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, thy will be done.”  Luke’s account of this in chapter 22, says that an angel appeared there and strengthened him, and He prayed more earnestly, so that his sweat became as drops of blood.  Both accounts mention that the disciples had fallen asleep while he labored in prayer. John’s account tells us that he prayed that His Father would be glorified…again, echoing the prayer of Jesus in John 17…that He would glorify the Father.  I wonder how many times He wants me to pray with Him and I fall asleep like the first followers did…this thought makes me embarrassed with the realization of my own weakness in prayer.

For this “Make My Life a Prayer” retreat, I’ll focus on The disciples’ prayer, and Jesus’ prayer for them.  I’m learning as I go, hope you enjoy and are blessed as well.

EGADS!  I have FOR SURE bitten off way more than I can chew.  Please know, that my thoughts on John 17 are in no way to be taken as a complete, exhaustive discourse on the chapter…it would take much more than a month (and much more than my feeble brain) to do that…I will do my best to record my own thoughts and impressions, and what I hear the Lord whispering to share from John 17…I’ll do what I can do, and try not to bog down in the process.  Thinking of making John 17 an all day Saturday post…broken up into three or four parts…that may make it a little easier for me in the writing process…I’ll follow up on Sunday with The Disciples’ Prayer…otherwise known as The Lord’s Prayer, or the “Our Father”…originally, I had thought of addressing them in the opposite  order, but after reading through John 17, I think that starting with His example of prayer and following up with His instructions made more sense in the way my brain is processing the information…

Sanctified in truth needs a blog post all its own.

Max Lucado on Daily Bread

John 17:  Jesus refers to himself in the third person for the first few verses here.  I’m having a hard time getting past that…is it the Holy Spirit praying through Him to the Father?

I seriously think I’m going to do a full-blown study on the attributes of God.  In fact, if I thought I had time to do it right, I’d include it in this series.  One website I found had a huge list of the names of God…way too many to include on the one little page I had devoted to it.  For now, I just picked the ones that related to me in the place I find myself mid-journey.

Today I’m about two weeks away from my deadline to have this series finished.  I have two posts that MUST BE included, and I have a terrible case of writer’s block.  I’m stuck, I can’t find words, and until today, I couldn’t even find thoughts that would guide me into a direction for these posts.  Now I’ve got some stray words and phrases that are rattling around, but I can’t seem to put legs on them and make them do anything for me.  I just continue to pray that whatever the Lord wants to say, He will give me His words, and help me present them clearly.  Until He does so, I’m meditating on the Disciples’ prayer as I continue putting together my prayer book, and collecting music and video to compliment this series.

A spark has ignited, and I’m not sure if I will have room to contain it in my study on the Lord’s prayer, but just in case, I need to get it down…either for now or a post later.  I was meditating on the part of the Lord’s prayer, “on earth as it is in heaven”…and the “thy kingdom come, thy will be done”, and reflecting over the prayer of Jesus for His disciples in John 17.  I wonder if this train of thought has happened elsewhere or not, it will be an interesting line of thinking to follow and study out.  I see a picture of unity in the body of Christ… Jesus prayed that we would be one, as He is one with the Father…that the world would see…that His church would experience “oneness” or unity.  That is His will, that is what His kingdom looks like…and we pray “on earth as it is in heaven”.   If our brothers and sisters who have died in Christ, are still alive in their spirit, they are experiencing this oneness with the Father and the Son in heaven.  If we are called to unity in the body of Christ, then we are still one with them…part of the same body of Christ, if you will, and therefore have what the Catholic Church teaches as “communion of the saints”, in her creed.  I can’t get this out of my mind!  I keep thinking of my dear Mom and Dad who loved the Lord Jesus and did their best to understand and follow Him on this earth.  They are now perfectly one with Him and the Father, and are glorifying Him in eternity.  My Momma was a prayer warrior here on earth, and I believe with all my heart that she still is, that hers are part of the prayers of the saints talked about in Revelation.  Such a beautiful picture of unity in the Spirit.

With less than two weeks to go, I’m working on getting this series organized.  I had done the Lord’s prayer and the Disciples’ prayer separately, and started working on the journal presentation, when I began to see a cool transition from talking about one, into talking about the other, so instead of focusing on one, then the next, I’ve decided to integrate all three and split them all up between the three days.  This will be better in the long run, but in the “meantime”, it’s a mess, and I’m a mess, and I feel inadequate to be able to complete this project that I so eagerly started.  My words are not coming as easily, and just today, after adding a little paragraph about M&Ms to remind us that sanctification is a moment by moment process, my whole day was derailed by a bitter family member whose attitude put mine to the test.  I struggled and my thought processes were brought to a complete halt for the sake of taking time to lick my wounds and again give this ugly heart to God for repair.  I think my next endeavor might be a blog or two about forgiveness.  Sigh.  Lord, help me.

I ended up not being able to focus on this series for a couple days, and in that time, God spoke to my heart, and showed me His love, and impressed on me the thought of Him agonizing in the garden over the cup he had to drink, while I slept.  Even when I didn’t want to persevere in prayer for this retreat, for my bitterness, for Him, He was persevering in prayer for me that I would experience unity with His body and Spirit, that I would have His joy fulfilled in me, that I would bring glory to Him.  I am both humbled and grateful for His love for me…were these two accounts of Jesus praying one and the same session?  The circumstances surrounding both prayer times are the same in the other gospel accounts…while the disciples were sleeping, and Jesus was praying for them, was He also asking for a way out of the cup he had to drink?  Makes me wonder.

Finally done to a point that I can begin scheduling these posts.  Sometimes I worry I don’t have enough content for the weekend, and other times I’ve worried it’s too much and maybe I should stretch it out.  I’m working on my last post (I really mean it this time, part three), and I feel like the whole thing has come together in a way that I never really expected.  I really wish I had more time to do a series on Spiritual warfare…maybe another retreat down the road?  We’ll see.

There is a lot of worship music I want to incorporate into this, but I’m not sure I want that many posts clogging up the newsfeed…I’ve thought about putting a bunch into one post, and decided against that.  I’ve added some appropriate songs to some of the posts, but decided not to include all the songs I had listed…it just seems like too much.  I may change my mind about that, but for now I have peace leaving it as it is.

Well, it’s done, for better or worse.