Posts from the ‘prayer’ Category

Poll on Spiritual Disciplines

I am interested in learning about the spiritual disciplines others engage in. If you wouldn’t mind taking a few short moments to take this poll, I would appreciate it.

John Wesley’s Covenant Prayer

I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee, exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, thou art mine, and I am thine.
So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven.

May today be a day in which you give yourself fully to Jesus Christ.

The Best Laid Plans …

I had intended to dive right back into regular posts to this blog after my recent move and surgery. I definitely had planned originally to post on Ash Wednesday. Fast forward past a couple of bumps in my recovery, and getting used to a radically new shift at work, and here I am.

Ash Wednesday is the beginning of the season of Lent, the beginning of a roughly 40-day countdown to Easter Sunday. Although many might associate Lent only with Roman Catholicism, it has also traditionally been celebrated by Protestant denominations such as the Methodists, Lutherans, and my own Church of the Nazarene. Lent is often marked by prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. I have previously  posted on the importance of Lent as a time of spiritual preparation, getting Christians ready to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday.

Confession: every year, I struggle with choosing what I should fast from. Due to medical reasons, I am not permitted to fast from food, so I have tried to fast from things which can be a big part of my life. One year it was T.V. I failed miserably on that one. Last year it was Facebook, at which I fared only slightly better. This year, I made the decision that rather than trying to fast from something, I would instead concentrate on my prayer life.

Curiously (or maybe not so much), I am finding that focusing on doing something seems easier than not doing something. In just four days, I have found that increasing the time I spend in prayer is having the unforseen result of drawing my attention away from the things which distract me from God. This is precisely what I always imagined fasting to accomplish. It occurs to me that perhaps the Apostle Paul would not have been surprised by this.

“So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth …” (Colossians 3:1-2)

This was a sentiment that Thomas a Kempis echoed in his classic devotional, The Imitation of Christ.

“Fix your mind on the Most High, and pray unceasingly to Christ.”

As I discipline myself to intentionally set aside time for prayer, I experience God responding to me. Will you join me in seeking Him during the Lenten season?

Back to Blogging

I’m back! I’m happy to report that both the move and my surgery went smoothly. Thanks to all who were praying … I felt the prayers covering my wife and I throughout.

I don’t have much to say in this first post back, other than to direct my reader’s attention to Psalm 122:6 and suggest that this might be a good time to heed its directive.

“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.”

Chosen People Ministries — a mission to reach Jewish people with the Gospel — has reminded people in a recent newsletter that peace in the Middle East is possible with prayer. They quite rightly suggest that knowing more about current Israeli and Palestinian leaders can help us pray more effectively for them.

Corporate Prayer

I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately on the subject of corporate prayer. Many in my church are going through a difficult time as we seek a new senior pastor, and we are trying to draw together and be unified in prayer. I’ve come to the realization that this does not come as easily as might be expected. After much consideration, I’ve concluded that part of the problem may be that many of the people in my church have active individual prayer lives, but have never really learned what it is like to pray together communally. I am praying, and thinking, and wrestling with ways that I might help us to draw together in this way as a local body.

Paul Bassett, in Holiness Teaching, observes how John and Charles Wesley “came to their understandings of God, themselves, and their world, and how these related and should relate, in the context of corporate and private devotion.” Bassett quite rightly notes that for the Wesleys, all of this was set within the specific context of Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer. I’m neither advocating nor expecting that my Nazarene church is going to start using the Book of Common Prayer, but Bassett has me hooked when he describes the nature and importance of corporate prayer in the lives of the Wesley brothers.

“Prayer included what we would call meditation. So a regular part of prayer was the reading, or listening to reading, of Scripture and other devotional literature. Reading was done slowly and clearly in order to allow for reflection. And it was thought best if the whole community could join in much of the reading …

This is the perspective that nourished John and Charles Wesley. Very early, they disciplined themselves to engage in corporate prayer at least twice a day. Each carried forward a rigorous schedule of daily private prayer as well … The services of morning and evening prayer and the service of Communion abounded with scripture readings, prayers and declarations promising sanctification and perfect love to believers, and exhortations to seek it in this life.”

This certainly gets at what it is that am I spending so much time wrestling with in my own private prayers and devotions. Maybe some of you readers — whether clergy or laypeople — that have some experience in teaching a church how to pray corporately could chime in. What are your thoughts or suggestions?

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