The American Way

Was thinking yesterday about the differences in world cultures, specifically, the ability of those in other parts of the world who embrace and benefit from multi-generational co-habitation.  Families who do not grow up and move away from their family, but who start their own family with the benefit of parents, grandparents, siblings, and etc. sharing the same roof, pooling their resources together and defining family and community in a whole different context than the what has morphed into the American definition of the word.

My dad used to dream of owning a large piece of land, and having a big house where all his kids and their kids could live, so that he could enjoy them as he aged.  Of course, he never got what he dreamed of this side of heaven’s gates, but I think he was a bit ahead of his time, or maybe behind it.  This kind of mentality goes completely against the grain of the American Way.  The “I, ME, MINE” mentality.  America’s progress report, if we had one, would fail at “shares well with others”, and “treats others with respect”.  What would it take to reverse this?  I think it would have to start with personal revival and a change of heart regarding the practical application of denying ourselves, laying down our rights, and looking out for the good of others ahead of watching out for #1.

I think that people who can figure this out, and learn to live in harmony with others (as opposed to isolating themselves and denying themselves a part in community), will be ahead of the game during troubled times that are headed our way here in America.  What do you think?

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Litany of the Love of God

Melanie, over at Joy Of Nine9 has blessed me yet again, this time with Litany of the Love of God.  It is so beautiful!  As I read, I found myself praying, in agreement with the words, and as I did, some of the words pierced through places in my spirit that I had been protecting from painful memories and past injuries.

It is challenging to say with complete honesty, that I allow my love to return to Him:

  • with all my heart (above the place that my husband, children, and grandchildren hold there);
  • with all my soul (that part of me that makes me who I am…including the masks I wear, the fortresses I’ve built around it for protection from pain, and the parts of it that have been robbed by fear, doubt, and unbelief);
  • with all my mind (above my own understanding and expectations of who God is, how He works, what He desires);
  • with all my strength (because I know the reserves I keep for the times when I don’t rely on His strength to do what He asks me to, or to do what I choose to do instead of what He’s asked me to do…I know well the areas of my being that are not surrendered to Him, and that I hold back).

Do I really mean it, when I tell Him, “Lord, I love you back, not for what you lavish me with, but just for who You are…”

  • above all possessions and honors,
  • above all pleasures and enjoyments
  • More than myself and all that belongs to me,
  • More than all my relatives and friends,
  • More than all men and angels,
  • Above all created things in heaven or on earth,

Oh!  I want to…but I know I fall short!  I am guilty of placing things above that love for Him.  How easily they get in the way, because I do love my things…my family…my friends…even myself and my accomplishments.  How sobering a reminder to keep all His riches that He shares with us in their proper perspective.  Of course, it’s right and expected for me to be thankful for all these blessings that He gives, with the knowledge that they are from His hand, and they are to given to me for His glory, not my own.

  • In wealth and in poverty,
  • In prosperity and in adversity,
  • In health and sickness,
  • In life and death,
  • In time and eternity (in what I know of in my now, and forever after)

I used to think it was easier to trust God and to love Him in the good times than it was in the hard times.  This notion has been tested and found to be untrue over the past ten years.  We’ve gone from employment and home ownership, to unemployment and homelessness (and back again); from having supportive family around us, to suffering fractured, painful dynamics; we’ve lost aged parents and welcomed grandbabies; and I can honestly say, through all of it, my love for God was strengthened in the days that I cried out for and received His comfort and consolations.  It was not easier to love God in the easy times, in fact, when times were easy, so was the ability to forget Him, and become complacent.

There is a hidden wisdom in the Lord’s prayer, when we ask for our daily bread.  I realized a rich dimension of thankfulness and awe in watching and waiting for daily provision, that was not present in our years of plenty, when I was buying groceries to stock a pantry for the month.  It’s not that I didn’t know where my help came from, but I was not reminded of it every day, and our blessing over the meal did not inspire awe then as it did when we did not know where our next meal would come from and were provided for on a daily basis.

I love the end of this litany…where I can unite the love I am returning to God with the love of all the saints and angels, even with the love of His own mother, and with His own infinite love.  Just in case mine falls short (and it does), it still returns to Him complete, because of the unity of His body.  What a beautiful picture of an answer to His prayer for us, that we be one, as He and the Father are one.

 

His prayer for us – part 3

Of all the flowers that God created, the Sunflower is probably the most fascinating.  Did you know that when they are growing and developing, they literally follow the sun?  Even after it has set, for all 360 degrees of the sun’s path around the earth, a sunflower stays oriented to the sun.  The video above illustrates this phenomena.  Can you imagine the unity of a whole field of sunflowers, all oriented to the sun? As believers, we can show this same kind of unity by our orientation to “the Son”.

The third chunk of Jesus’ prayer for His disciples, is specifically first for His Church, as he states in v 20 ““I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word…”  and also for the world.

He asks that:

  • His disciples be one (unity), as He is one with the Father
  • the world (seeing the unity of the church) may believe that the Father has sent the Son
  • His disciples would be with Him where He is
  • His disciples would see His glory
  • the world would know Him and experience His love

I don’t know about you, but this part of Jesus’ prayer is humbling and encouraging, and overwhelming all rolled up into one emotion.  If my connection with fellow believers testifies to the unbelieving world that God sent Jesus, I feel a certain amount of self-expectation and pressure to be faithful.  I want to imitate and please the Lord, but there is a conflict in my spirit at times, because I don’t always feel “one” with my brothers and sisters; not only do we fail to be on the same page, but often it feels like we aren’t even in the same library…and to be honest, some days I don’t even want to.  There are some in my spiritual family that challenge me greatly in this area (sometimes, they even share my living space with me).  It is especially convicting to be reminded that how I react to them is a witness to an unbelieving world of my oneness with Christ, and His oneness with the Father.

We have the opportunity…and the responsibility to participate in the answer to this part of Jesus’ prayer.  Jesus said that the world would know we are followers of Him by the love that we have for one another, and here He says that by seeing our oneness, the world can experience God’s love.  Does the world see our love for one another?  Does the world see a difference in the way we treat others?  Do our lives as believers orient to the Son:

  • In purpose?
  • In fellowship?
  • In bearing one another’s burdens?
  • In love?

What about in areas of disagreements, personality conflicts, or doctrinal differences?  How does the world see us when things are not easy?  If my unbelieving neighbor or unsaved friend doesn’t see love in my life, or if they see me in habitual conflict with those around me, I have failed in my personal responsibility as a disciple of Christ to seize the opportunity to introduce and orient them to God, and fulfill the Great Commission of His Son.

Like that field of sunflowers, we experience unity only if we are all focused on the same external point of reference.   We can accomplish this by joining in prayer with Jesus prayer for us, as we pray for one another in agreement with His will for His body on earth.

Being a “Son follower” not only will be a testimony of God’s love to a world looking for authenticity and truth, but also allows us to catch a glimpse of His glory, as Jesus prayed we would.

Prayer Journal – Let Thy Kingdom Come

kingdom comeWhen Mary and Joseph “lost” Jesus, and “found” him in the synagogue teaching the teachers, they asked why he would behave this way and cause them anxiety.  If we want to follow and imitate Him,  His answer should give us a clue to our mission.  He answered;  “didn’t you know I had to be about my Father’s business?” (Luke 2)

As His followers, we need to be about our Father’s business.  When we pray “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”, we are recognizing that His will in heaven is our business here on earth, and when we pray for His Kingdom to come, we are lining ourselves up with and agreeing with His will for His Kingdom.  If we are boldly praying for His Kingdom to come, it would behoove us to know what His kingdom looks like.  I think we get a great insight into this by the example Jesus set for us in His prayer  in John 17.

According to this passage, His will is:

  • …that He be glorified in me so that He can bring glory to the Father.
  • …that I know Him.  And as a result of knowing Him, I have eternal life in Him.
  • …that we (His followers) be one, as He and the Father are one…His will is unity in the Spirit.
  • …to have His joy made complete in me.
  • …that I would be sanctified in His word, that is truth.
  • …that the world will know God loves them and will believe Jesus was sent from God by looking at me, and seeing my relationship in Christ.
  • …that God’s love will be in me, and that Jesus Himself will be in me.

thy will

Here I wrote out my favorite answer to the question “What does God want me to do?  What is His will for me?”  I actually learned to sing this Scripture when I was young, and it has never left me.

You can read more of my thoughts on this here.

earth_heaven

I was meditating on this part of the verse as John 17’s words about unity and oneness with the Father, Son, and one another reverberated through my mind, mingled with parts of the Apostle’s creed.  His will (according to John 17) is that we be one…and according to this model of prayer that He gave us, we are to pray that His will be done on earth, as in heaven.  He has one body, and we are all part of one another, here on earth as well as in heaven.

This is a vivid picture of the communion of the saints that is taught and professed in the apostles creed.  Though they have gone from this life on earth to REAL life, eternal life in heaven, a departed saint is still part of the “body of Christ”.  Dying has not disconnected them from Christ’s body of believers, otherwise, where would they go?  Christ only has one body, and it is comprised of those here on earth, as well as those in heaven.

I believe they are part of that cloud of witnesses in Hebrews 12 that is watching and cheering us on in our journey (the race), and they can and do continue to pray to the Father for us.  They haven’t left or been removed from His body, they are still active participants in His will at the feet of “our Father in heaven”, just as we are present in His body, the church, here on earth.  We are still one body, and we are held together, connected in purpose and spirit, by the Son, in whom we find unity one with another, as He prayed we would.

Our Father

Petitions

His Prayer For Us (Part 2)

John 17: 4-19

We’ve established context, and we’ve talked about the first three verses of John 17.  After asking to be glorified for doing the work His father gave Him, He turns his attention to the second main part of this prayer, that is focusing specifically on praying for His disciples.

Here Jesus affirms that these disciples:

  • were given to Him by God the Father from the world
  • have kept God’s word
  • know that everything Jesus told them is from God
  • have received His words
  • know the truth that God sent Jesus, and know that He came from God

He asks on behalf of the disciples that God has given him, and then states that they belong to the Father.  This sets up the next part of this passage where Jesus claims to be one with God the Father, boldly stating “what’s mine is yours, and what’s yours is mine”, then testifies that they (the disciples that God gave to Him from the world) have glorified Him, the Son.

Are you catching all the glorifying going on so far?  The disciples have glorified Jesus, Jesus glorifies the Father, and asks that the Father glorify Him.  That is a lot of glory being passed back and forth.  As He reminds the Father again of the faithful work He has done with them so far, Jesus requests four specific things for His disciples:

  • for their protection
  • for their unity (or oneness)
  • for His joy to be made complete in them
  • for their sanctification

I wonder what would happen if we, the Body of Christ, began to faithfully pray Jesus’ prayer here, each for the other.  I want to add this into my prayer book so that I can remember it.  Can you imagine, if we prayed for protection and unity like we prayed for our health, or our finances?  Or for our brothers and sisters to have God’s joy made complete in them?  How about the big five-syllable word there?  The million dollar word, sanctification.  Nobody even talks like that anymore, maybe we should know what it means before we start putting it on our brothers and sisters in Christ…and ourselves!

Sanctify, according to Merriam Webster has four possible meanings, that all kind of go together, when we are talking about the process in our lives.

  1. to set apart to a sacred purpose or to religious use (consecrate).
  2. to free from sin (purify).
  3. a : to impart or impute sacredness, inviolability, or respect to b : to give moral or social sanction to
  4. to make productive of holiness or piety <observe the day of the sabbath, to sanctify it — Deuteronomy 5:12(Douay Version)

Sanctify them in your truth — I never realized how packed those five words were until tonight.  I’m still letting them sink in.

To put legs on this phrase…Jesus was asking that His followers be set apart for a particular use (in context, I would say for the purpose of bringing Him glory), that we would be free from sin (made pure), and free from being violated, kept sacred and respected.  Because we live in a fallen world, this is a process…every day, every hour, moment by moment, we have to be “sanctified” as we walk out our walk.

If this were a real ladies retreat, I would have placed at your tables a 1/2 pt. Mason jar filled with M&M’s to remind you of your need for His sanctifying power in your life “Moment by Moment”  If you are so inclined, you can make one for yourself, tie a pretty bow or a piece of rafia around the lid, and never see a bag of M&M’s the same way again.  🙂

if I were to imitate the Lord’s prayer for His disciples, it might sound something like this:

Father in heaven, my brothers and sisters are in this world that misunderstands and hates us because of our love and devotion to You; guard and protect us as we strive to be in it without adopting its standards to our lives.  Keep us free from sin and safe from the traps that the enemy sets for us, as we follow in your steps.

Help us to realize that we are here for one another, and bind us together in Your  perfect love, so that we can all be one in Your Spirit, as you are one with the Father.

Lord, we know that this world is not our home, and we are trusting you to make your joy complete in us as we focus on our future hope with you in heaven.  But while we are here, Lord, sanctify us.  Cleanse us and make us pure.  Set us apart, make us sacred, keep us from being violated, help us do the right thing, make us holy and ready to accomplish your perfect will in your truth. Your word is truth, hide it in our hearts, and keep us mindful of your truth and our purpose.

In the precious Name of Jesus, who set the example for us to follow,  Amen.

 

Prayer Journal – Our Father

9 Pray then like this:  First, how not to pray…now, the instruction of how rather to pray:

Our Father who art in heaven, — I love that God is not just Jesus’ Father…and he’s not just my Father…but our Father.  I am not an only child here!  I have a huge family unit consisting of brothers and sisters, spanning the globe and the ages.  We are one big family!  “Father” is a personal, intimate term.  It indicates a family relationship, of favor, love, nurturing and protection.  We might not have the best example in our earthly fathers, but everything that we would expect and respect in our own earthly daddy, God is to us, and infinitely more.  In fact, He sets the bar for earthly fathers, even the best daddy in this world will fall short of the excellency of our Heavenly Father.

Hallowed be thy name.

God’s name and very essence is “hallowed” which means holy, or consecrated (set apart…above all) sacred, or revered  (I’d be getting WAY AHEAD of myself here if I took you on the bunny trail of the word sanctification…we’ll get to it in a bit, I promise).  While we are not the ones doing the “hallowing”, by observing and understanding the holy, sacred nature of God’s Name, we participate in an act of worship to Our Father, God.  It is  the first step in adoration, that is, recognizing  and reverencing Him for who He is, apart from what He’s done/is doing. By the way, if you’ve never done a personal study on the names of God, you are missing out on some wonderful heart knowledge.  I love the thought of incorporating God’s names and attributes into my prayers, but often my mind goes blank and I can’t bring them to mind.  Having a list handy during my prayer time would be helpful, so I decided to devote one page of my prayer journal to the attributes of God, and another to the names that are recorded of His.

Our Father_Hallowed Names_Attributes

This was a lofty plan, I found as I began a crash course on the attributes/names of God, using this site.    Wow.  I knew there was not enough room on my page to list them all (further proof that our God cannot and will not be contained).  I finally just chose the ones that are relevant to me where I am on my journey today.  Eventually, I plan to do an in-depth study of the names of God, I’ll write the Hebrew name on one side of an open page, and the English meaning on the other.  For now, because of limited space, I gave myself permission to write only the English meaning of the Hebrew name.  Since God is both perfect and multilingual, I figure He’s okay with me not butchering the Hebrew when calling on Him.

What about you?   Do you find it helpful to focus you attention on His attributes when you address Him by name?  What are the names/attributes of God that you focus on when you pray?

TipUnfortunately, even with the pages doubled, my marker bled through to the opening page of my journal.  To prevent this, on future pages, I illustrated first (with an index card underneath the page(s)  I’m coloring), then glued when finished.

Let Thy Kingdom Come

Make My Life a Prayer — Text Reference

John Chapter 17:

After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you,  since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.  And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do.  So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.  “I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.  Now they know that everything you have given me is from you;  for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours.  10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. 11 And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.

12 While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled.  13 But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves.  14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.  15 I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one.  16 They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.  18 As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.  19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.

20 “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word,  21 that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  22 The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one,  23 I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.  24 Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.  25 “Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

____________

Luke Chapter 11:1-9

He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say:

Father, hallowed be your name.
    Your kingdom come.
    Give us each day our daily bread.
    And forgive us our sins,
        for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.
    And do not bring us to the time of trial.”

Perseverance in Prayer

And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.’ And he answers from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.

“So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 11 Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? 12 Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

________________

Luke 18:1-8

And he told them a parable, to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor regarded man; and there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Vindicate me against my adversary.’ For a while he refused; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will vindicate her, or she will wear me out by her continual coming.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will vindicate them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

_________

Matthew chapter 6:5-15

Concerning Prayer

“And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.[b]

“When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

“Pray then in this way:

Our Father in heaven,
    hallowed be your name.
10     Your kingdom come.
    Your will be done,
        on earth as it is in heaven.
11     Give us this day our daily bread.[c]
12     And forgive us our debts,
        as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13     And do not bring us to the time of trial,[d]
        but rescue us from the evil one.[e]

14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; 15 but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Make My Life a Prayer – Introduction

Hello!  Welcome to “Make My Life a Prayer”, my first ever virtual retreat here at New Things.  Pour yourself a tall glass of your favorite beverage and relax with me for a minute…we’ve got a full weekend ahead.

This brainchild of hosting a virtual retreat came out of my own need and desire to unplug, pull away to a quiet place and meet with God.  Since I had a good block of time on my hands with my youngest away for the month, I thought it would be neat to put together a mini-series of articles, links, music, and prayers for ladies to get lost in for a day or two…or three.  I had no idea where the Lord would lead, or the amazing things He was eager to show me while working on the study portions.

I’ll post what I have learned from my personal study of what Ray Stedman calls “the longest prayer”, our Lord’s prayer for us in John chapter 17, as well as the prayer that is called “The Lord’s Prayer” or the “Our Father”.  I will refer to this prayer as  “the Disciples’ Prayer” since it is an account of our Lord teaching His disciples to pray, and has become a model prayer for us, His disciples now.  There is a separate blog post with both texts for your convenience.

I even have a craft project in the works that you can join me in completing, if you like.  I’m compiling a prayer book, composed of some of the “God whispers” I heard while studying through the selected texts.  You can make one too so you’ll have a place to record prayers to memorize, or verses that are special that you wish to memorize or remember, and a list of requests that you may have purposed to pray for.

Bob Hostetler

I picked up two three packs of mini composition notebooks at Walmart for $0.88 so I could share with my nephew and nieces.  These are a good size to pop in a purse or even a pocket to access when I have extra time on my hands or find myself waiting for the next thing.  Other crafty supplies that I am using for my book are scissors, glue stick, sharpie markers and colored pencils.  You can get as fancy as you want to, your own creative mind is the limit.

Keith Green’s “Make My Life a Prayer” has become my heart cry as I study…and I can hear his lyrics echo when I read through the texts I’ve chosen for this series.  It is my own prayer springing from a desire to bring glory to God as Jesus did, and that He would glorify Himself through me while I strive to walk in faith and obey what He asks me to do.

Will you join me in prayer for the Lord to use this weekend to touch lives and draw people to Himself.  Also, read through the links I’ve provided below to stimulate your mind and heart to better understand prayer. If you find one that is part of a series, don’t stop with the one I’ve linked to, click around and read them all…there is some really good stuff that will (hopefully) get you thinking about what prayer is, what it’s for, who it benefits (and how), and ways that we can spur one another on to becoming effective pray-ers.  Finally, please, if you are following along, introduce yourself in the comments and share your insights on prayer and what God has shown you or is saying to you on your own journey.  If you have access to articles and resources on prayer that you’d like to share, by all means, please do.  We are here for one another, and we all have something to contribute.  I would love to see this weekend be one of sweet Christian fellowship that benefits all of us.

Ok?

  1. Pray
  2. Read
  3. Comment/Share

Good.

Let’s get started!!!

What is Prayer? — USCCB article on prayer.

We Pray Because—Check out Saintly Sages’ excellent posts on the reasons we pray.  You will not be disappointed, it is THAT good.

How Not to Pray—ctk blog has an excellent example of how not to pray.

How to Develop a Prayer Life that Transforms

Praying for our husbands — Nancy Leigh DeMoss’ very well done litany of Scriptures to pray God’s will over our husbands.  Really, this guide is so good, you could use it to pray for anyone, but it is specifically applicable to husbands.

Praying for our children  —  This list compiled by Bob Hostetler is a similar format to Nancy Leigh DeMoss’ list above.  There is a month of Scriptures provided for us to pray God’s Word over our kids.