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Posts Tagged ‘#prayer’

As Jesus stood on a mount, delivering his sermon to the crowd, he taught them about how to live. Primarily what he taught was that our hearts should be pure, that we do good especially when no one is looking, that God is God.

In the midst of this Sermon on the Mount is a profoundly simple yet … profound instruction on how to pray.

The Lord’s Prayer has been called “a prayer of prayers”. When we prayer, whatever we pray, we are praying the Lord’s prayer.

I have heard of elderly people, immersed in their own world of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, who sit, lifeless, in a chair much of the day. Then, when they hear the familiar words of the Lord’s prayer they come alive again, reciting what they learned generations ago (this is also a good reminder to ‘hide’ God’s word in the hearts of our children and of ourselves).

“The function of prayer is not to change God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.”

Soren Kierkegaard

It changes me … prayer changes me. If I am ‘real’ and honest when I pray (and how can I not? for God is not hearing my words so much as my heart) transformation of my mind and heart take place, drawing me closer to the heart of God himself.

When we are low on words. When our human aching cannot muster a whisper. When there is nothing left but the groaning of my heart … I pray, as Jesus taught:

This, then, is how you should pray:

Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is

the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
Amen.

Matthew 6:9-13

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Back to school is always a paradox of excitement and anxiety. This year, this 2020 September … in the midst of a pandemic … there might just be more anxiety than excitement.

Returning to work in a secondary school, last week, I found myself less anxious as I leaned into the F-word that needs to be the focus of the school year … flexibility. I also gained strength by praying … for the administration, for colleagues, for the students and their parents.

Prayer is our best back to school tool. It reminds us that we are not in control, but we know who is and that he doesn’t leave us in our time of need, our time of anxiety.

Prayer gives us a place to speak our fears, to name them, to be real.

Prayer gives us an amen … meaning ‘so be it’ or ‘truth’. It is the release of our burden … not just the giving of our worry and concern to God, but trusting him with our prayer (ie. not taking it back).

So … let’s pray for this school year:

God,

We come to you, acknowledging that you are God … we are not, Coronavirus is not … only you are God and you are God over everything.

God our kids (we) are starting a new school year and we confess that we might be allowing worry to control us. We confess that we have given far too much attention and time to social media and it has left us anxious, even hopeless. We confess that we often look first to those in government, in education to calm our fears. Lord we give the things that cause us to be anxious to you. We seek you first for confidence, for protection, for comfort.

We also seek your leading, for some are unsure about their return to school. There are staff, students, or family members at home with compromised immune systems, or pre-existing conditions that make us unsure about the wisdom of returning to school. Please, Lord, guide and lead those who are unsure. Lead them to their physicians who can help them make the best decision for themselves, their children and those they love. And Lord, if they choose to not return, help the rest of us to embrace them in their personal decision.

There is such anxiety about the start of this school year, Lord. There are those who may be frozen with fear. Bring them reminders of peace and comfort. Bring your people to them, to embrace and encourage them where they are, but also who will walk them through the fear to a place of ease.

May we, who follow you, hold tightly to you, so that we can be beacons of your love to those around us.

Thank-you that you give to us a spirit of power, and love, and a sound mind … those are your gifts to us (the evil one brings fear). With our sound minds we can make the decisions that are best for those we love. With the power from you, we can be confident in our decisions. With love we can make decisions based on what is best for not just we and those we love but for those around us … and in doing so, we are your hands and feet.

May we encourage those who are returning (or have already returned) to work in classrooms. May we hold up in prayer to you those who will be cleaning, teaching, administrating, assisting students in our schools. May we be like Aaron and Hur for Moses, holding his hands high in the midst of Joshua’s battle … holding school staff up to God as they battle for educating in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic.

God, we give this school year to you. We give the families represented, the school staff, those who sit in tall buildings making decisions about education and safety … to you. And we walk in faith that you will not leave us alone in the path ahead of us.

Amen … and amen.

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One of the things that drew me to the church we now call home is the time in the service when a person emerges before the congregation and offer up the prayers of the people.

Prayers are offered for our immediate church family as well as the church worldwide, the community in which we live as well as the global community. For ministries in our church, the people who perform the ministries as well as those who benefit from them. Thanks for who God is, for the life we have been given, for the opportunities to be his hands and feet are spoken. Acknowledgement of our need of him, his wisdom, his eyes, his grace.

I am so thankful for the importance placed on corporate prayer that covers people, places and happenings both near and far.

The other day I felt like I had lived a day of prayers of the people.

There was beauty and appreciation for the life I have been so fortunate to live. The people who have added to my life, the activities, the work, the world in which I live.

Then there were the joys of others, prayers answered in the most spectacular of ways. Events that enfolded in a such a way that one could not help but acknowledge that God had his hand in the the details.

There were tears too, for hurts and struggles and disappointments in the lives of others. People who were experiencing fear, loneliness, heartache … pain. People who I could only help by laying their burdens at the feet of the only wise God.

Lord, hear my prayer …

These words are often prayed in corporate prayer and I have begun to use them as I pray.

We see these words at the start of Psalm 143, one of the penitential psalms.

It is not a demand, but a question, a request.

These four words remind us that it is we who are the ones asking to be heard, asking for help, for mercy.

The Matthew Henry Commentary, for this verse says,

“We have no righteousness of our own to plead, therefore must plead God’s righteousness, and the word of promise which he has freely given us, and caused us to hope in.”

We are never enough on our own, but through the blood of Jesus we can speak to the God of the universe, making our supplications to Him. It is an act that is an honor and a responsibility.

When we lift up our prayers to God nothing is news to him, for he is all knowing. Yet we lift them up as an offering, as an act of complete trust … trust that he can and will oversee the cries of our heart, trust in the process that he chooses.

Lord, hear our prayer.

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