Jesus, Jesus

To holy people the very name of Jesus is a name to feed upon, a name to transport. His name can raise the dead and transfigure and beautify the living.”           John Henry

 One of the most amazing ways to pray is to simply repeat the name of Jesus. It is a soothing and enlightening way to meditate on God. Somewhere in the process our petty problems seem to disappear and we can feel “the peace that passes all understanding.” This may not happen every time but if you continue the practice it will come. I often use this song repeating it over and over.

 

Prayer: Lord, we have asked you before to teach us to pray and you gave us The Lord’s Prayer. Help us pray our way into your presence in many different ways. Amen

 

Read

By reading the scriptures I am so renewed that all nature seems renewed around me and with me.  The sky seems to be a pure, a cooler blue, the trees a deeper green.  The whole world is charged with the glory of God and I feel fire and music under my feet.  Thomas Merton

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Thomas Merton felt himself changed by reading scripture. We might think well that was centuries ago and it won’t happen to me.

Not so, Thomas was a man of the 20th century and lived a somewhat risqué life before he found God. The Bible did change his life and his way of thinking. It could happen to us. Reading the Bible daily and with real attention could make us see things differently as Thomas did. Try it!

Homework: Read the Bible this week with all your attention for at least 10 minutes.

Prayer: Generous God, you gave us the Bible as a guide in our lives. May we actually pick it up and not just read but absorb it. Amen

 

 

Refined by fire

We are always on the anvil; by trials God is shaping us for higher things.
Henry Ward Beecher

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We weren’t promised a rose garden. We were promised that God would never leave us. Having a life free of problems may not be the thing that makes us beautiful in God’s eyes. The Bible reminds us that pottery is put into the flame to make it beautiful. In times of trial turn to God and come out of the trial refined by him.

Prayer: Ever present God, go with us into the flame and bring us out made beautiful for you. Amen

 

Plant seeds

Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.     Robert Louis Stevenson

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 A lot of times I hear people say: “I prayed for my friend and nothing happened.” “I tried to talk to someone about God but it didn’t change anything.” That may be what we see but we may never know the final result. It is amazing years later to have someone say: “you helped me when I was down.” We need to keep on spreading those seeds.

 

Prayer: Loving Jesus, you know that we have become self conscious talking about you to others. We feel uncomfortable and usually can’t see any result. Remind us to spread the seed and let you do the rest. Amen

 

Prayer changes us

Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays.
Soren Kierkegaard

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One of my favorite prayers talks about God’s unchangelessness. God never changes I count on it. But if we spend time with God in prayer we are different. Don’t forget to spend time with God. He is worth the effort.

Homework: Take time to pray for five minutes each day this week.

Prayer: Faithful God, you wait on us to come to you. You are there with us but we don’t talk with you. Help us to take the time to be with you. Amen

 

The fewer the words, the better the prayer. Martin Luther

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Too often, when we take time to pray, we spend it all on telling God our problems, and our desires. Seldom do we stop—-in total silence and wait to see if we can hear God’s voice. We are so good at talking and not listening.

 

 

Prayer: Oh Lord, quiet our minds and our mouths. Remind us that we find you most in silence. Help us to close out the noises of our busy lives and sit quietly and wait. AMEN

 

Take up your cross

If He laid down His life for us, is it not the least we can do to lay down ours for Him? If He bore the cross and died on it for me, ought I not to be willing to take it up for him?                   Dwight Lyman Moody

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What does it mean to “take up the cross?”  He adds “and follow me.” Am I really following him? He loved and related to all people. He ate with tax collectors (who were hated by the people); did not rebuke a woman who was unclean for touching him. He went against the grain for his time. How are we doing?

 

Prayer: Lord Jesus, so many are outcast s in our own time. Even naming them can set us off. Help us to follow you more closely and learn to love even the people we now shun. Amen

 

Use this prayer

This is the prayer we used today at Ash Wednesday Service. It is a prayer we all should use.

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Most holy and merciful God,
we confess to you and to one another,
and before the whole company of heaven,
that we have sinned by our fault,
by our own fault,
by our own most grievous fault,
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you with our whole heart, and mind, and strength. We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We have not forgiven others as we have been forgiven.
Have mercy on us, O God.
We have shut our ears to your call to serve as Christ served us. We have not been true to the mind of Christ. We have grieved your Holy Spirit.
Have mercy on us, O God.
Our past unfaithfulness, the pride, envy, hypocrisy, and apathy that have infected our lives, we confess to you.
Have mercy on us, O God.
Our self-indulgent appetites and ways, and our exploitation of other people, we confess to you.
Have mercy on us, O God.
Our negligence in prayer and worship, and our failure to share the faith that is in us, we confess to you.
Have mercy on us, O God.
Our neglect of human need and suffering, and our indifference to injustice and cruelty, we confess to you.
Have mercy on us, O God.
Our false judgments, our uncharitable thoughts toward our neighbors, and our prejudice and contempt toward those who differ from us, we confess to you.
Have mercy on us, O God.
Our waste and pollution of your creation, and our lack of concern for those who come after us, we confess to you.
Have mercy on us, O God.
Restore us, O God, and let your anger depart from us.
Hear us, O God, for your mercy is great.

You don’t have to know the result

I think this is the perfect time to center on a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr.

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I am sure that Christ had no plan to be the most important person the world has ever known. His plan was to teach us about his father and how to live our lives. Each of us has a choice each day to live as Christ taught us. What is right is always the thing to do. We don’t know what the impact of that choice will be. It doesn’t matter.

A light in the darkness

Have you ever felt so far down that you couldn’t see any way out? This is what happens to those who contemplate or choose suicide. Living in this kind of darkness is miserable. Strangely enough many of the mystics have been there. It is called “the dark night of the soul.” This is when you can’t imagine God being with you. You may not be able to pray at all. Your belief in God is shaken to the core.

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Even though I have never been so far down as to contemplate suicide I have been in a place where I can understand that suicide feels like a peaceful solution. When we are in this place I have felt one thing that has brought light into the darkness: the prayers of others. If you feel yourself sliding down into darkness send out a plea for help. Ask others to pray. Know that they are praying and those prayers will be your lifeline out of the abyss.

Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects.

If someone asks you for prayer follow through for you may be someones light.