Tag Archives: Prayer

Of Birds, Chimneys and Prayers

Honestly, I felt pretty ridiculous standing there, singing to my wood stove.

But it had to be done.

Apparently a bird had managed to squeeze in under the chimney cap. And so, in one of the first signs of spring, he had flown down and was stuck in the stove  which, thankfully, was not being used. The bird would be calm for awhile, then start fluttering and pecking, trying to get out.

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Lord of the Everyday?

Have you ever had one of those days—or weeks, or months—when things just seem to grow worse and worse? I’m not speaking here of times of crisis, when something is drastically wrong. But what about when life becomes a daily grind?

Where is God then? Where is He when the boss is demanding, the clients unreasonable? When the children clamor for attention while the stack of unwashed dishes threatens to cascade onto the pile of dirty laundry?

Where is He when we don’t have the luxury of time to seek Him?

He is a God of love, of eternity, of heaven. But what about the everyday?

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Paul’s Prayer

"Praying Hands" (study for an Apostl...

“Praying Hands” (study for an Apostle figure of the “Heller” altar) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“I’ll pray for you.”

How many times have you heard that? How many times have you known that the person really is praying and hasn’t forgotten your problem as soon as you’re gone?

One of the things I like about Paul is that he doesn’t just say, “I’ll pray for you.”  He says, “I do pray for you, and this is what I’m praying.”

Now, although he had not visited the church at Colossae, Paul was praying for the people there. His friend Epaphras had told him about the church. So what did he pray?

So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.

We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.

–Colossians 1:9-12, New Living Translation

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Prayers God Answers

a child's prayer

a child’s prayer (Photo credit: Nancy Big Crow)

Sometimes we talk to people who think that God doesn’t answer prayer—or that He at least doesn’t answer their prayers. They pour out their troubles before the Lord, and then listen … to the silence.

Sometimes you may feel that way yourself. I know there are times I do. It is during those times that I return to the prayers that God answers.

One that I find myself praying often is simple, and borrowed from the One who knew best how to pray: “Your will be done.”  Jan Karon, in her Mitford series, calls it “the prayer that never fails.” There are so many times when I’m not sure how to pray in a given situation, so I turn often to that prayer. It says in its simplicity all that needs to be said.

There are other prayers to which God’s ear seems especially attuned.

“More of You and less of me.”

“Show me someone with whom to share You today.”

“Please use me to bless someone today.”

“May I be more like Jesus at the end of the day than I am right now.”

Maybe if God isn’t answering our prayers, it’s because we aren’t asking the right things.

Instead of asking for joy, we might ask to live a life that brings joy to others.

Instead of asking to be free of fear, seek to come closer in relationship to God, who is the perfect Love that casts out fear.

Rather than asking for more, ask to come to more fully know He who is All.

Prayer involves coming before God … to worship, to request, to express our questions, to pour out our hearts. The important part isn’t always what we say when we get there. It’s that we come to Him.

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Hannah: Trusting and Waiting

Hannah was tired as she walked home from the well, her jar heavy with water. She’d just learned that yet another friend was with child. While happy for her friend’s joy, her own circumstance stood out in bold relief.

Elkanah was a good man, a God-fearing man. She was fortunate to have such a loving husband. But soon it would be time to journey to Shiloh, to worship the Lord there. Her husband would bring the offering, and to Hannah he would give a double portion, a sign of his love for her. It should have been a joyful time, but it was not.

Peninna, Elkanah’s other wife, would also be there … along with her sons. Peninna managed to make Hannah’s life a trial, baiting her and mocking her for her childless state. As though that lack in itself weren’t burden enough, magnified in a culture in which women were esteemed for their ability to bear children. And it all seemed to come to a head when they made their annual journey, with Hannah crying so much she couldn’t eat.

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Praying “Enough”

“I don’t pray enough.”

How often have you heard that? How often have you said it?

Usually it means we aren’t setting aside the time to pray consistently, or we’re not praying for very long when we do pray.

Once, years ago when I hadn’t been a Christian for very long, I was asked to pray about a given situation for an hour. People in the church were “covering” something in prayer by taking hour-long shifts to pray. I signed on, then panicked. How could I pray about one thing for a whole hour? Keep Reading

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Preschoolers and Prayer Walls

Do you remember those big cardboard blocks that used to be found in preschools and church nurseries? (I’m not sure, but I think it was some kind of legal requirement for caretakers of young children.) They were sturdy “bricks” of red or blue with painted-on mortar, large enough and stable enough to stack into walls.

A few years ago I taught preschool Sunday school at a church that was blessed with a set of these blocks. The kids enjoyed playing with them, and I liked using them for prayer time.

When you try to pray with three- and four-year-olds, things can get a little chaotic. You often learn way more than you want to about their family life. Everyone suddenly develops a relative or a friend with some sort of illness. (One of my favorites was the cousin whose tongue had turned blue.) And often some sort of “Pet Prayer Rule” must be instituted so the whole thing doesn’t devolve into competitive pet prayer requests. (“Can we pray for my cat? He had to go to the vet.” “We need to pray for my dog. He was hit by a car last year, but he’s fine now.” “Let’s pray for my hamster. He’s dead.”)

So something concrete to physically manipulate and that imposes the taking of turns is helpful. That’s how the Prayer Wall was conceived. The way it works is this: Each child gets a turn to lay a block on our prayer wall by saying a thank-You prayer:

“Thank You, God, for my brother.”

“Thank You, God, for my toys.”

“Thank You, God, for toothpaste.” (Really.)

After all of the children had taken a turn, or turns, a little wall had been built. We’d hold hands while I said a brief closing prayer. Then we’d have fun knocking down the wall together and put away the blocks.

I was reminded of this, of course, because it’s Thanksgiving week. And while we should always be thankful, it isn’t a bad thing to take a little extra time to think about our blessings and thank the One from whom every good and perfect gift is given.

“Thank You, God, for the gift of family and friends. Bless them, Lord.”

“Thank You, God, for life in this lovely valley. Help us to help others here, and further afield.”

“Thank You, God, for the opportunity to learn about You and Your Word.”

Here … It’s your turn. Have a block.

What are you thankful for?

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