Prayer, Plain and Simple

Prayer, Plain and Simple

Jesus’ Template for Talking with God

posted by Mark Herringshaw

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver from the evil one” (Matthew 6:9-13).

 

Reb Yeshua bar Yosef attracted crowds everywhere he went.  Along the Lakeshore of Galilee in Palestine thousands pressed around him to hear his words.  On one occasion he commandeered a fishing boat and asked the fishermen who operated it to pull it off shore so he could address the throng that had gathered to hear him.  His teachings rang with a fresh joy, and he backed everything he said with uncompromising authority and – some said – miraculous powers.  Expectations about Yeshua rippled throughout Galilee.  Might he be the One promised by ancient prophets who would bring freedom and prosperity back to Israel? 

 

Yeshua was a carpenter by trade.  But at the age of 30 he had left his native Nazareth to take up the role of itinerant teacher, or rabbi.  Rabbinic ministry was a respectable occupation for a Jewish man in Israel in first century A.D.  By all accounts, at least in the early months of his work, he was widely esteemed.  Like other teachers of his time Yeshua invited young men to leave their families and join him as he traveled instructing the people in the ways of God.  His process of training was familiar to them.  For he taught as other rabbis taught.  He told stories to relay eternal truth.  And he explained his messages on the run, by first modeling the principles in his own actions, then challenging his followers to do the same, then finally interpreting the meaning to the wider audience. 

 

Yeshua (Jesus in English) was a master teacher.  Like all great teachers he somehow managed to lead his students to ask the very questions he was eager to answer for them.  So when Jesus’ followers finally realized that prayer was the secret to his power and authority for ministry they asked, “Rabbi, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1).  When they asked, Jesus was primed with an answer they could immediately put to practice.  

 

“Our Father in heaven…”

 

His words are familiar to many of us.  Even irreligious people recognize the rote

and rhythm of the lines often called the Lord’s Prayer, the Pater Noster or the “Our Father”  But beneath these four lines rests something much richer than words for recitation.  What Jesus is offering here is a kind of template for our dialog with God.

 

How can these simple lines help frame our understanding of God and how we can relate with him?

“Our Father”

“May your name be worshipped!

“May your regime come here to earth in the same way it is in heaven.”

“Give us today everything we need.”

“Forgive our sin, as we forgive others.”

“Lead us away from temptation and from the evil one.”

 Pray these words today… perhaps again, for the first time.

Does Prayer Make Me Smarter?

posted by Mark Herringshaw

Check out this story: Andrew Newberg argues in his new book “How God Changes Your Brain,” that meditation alters our gray matter, strengthening regions that focus the mind and foster compassion for others, and calming those areas linked to fear and anger. We already knew this, didn’t we? It’s nice to see science catching up…  

 

 

Putting “Play” in “Pray”

posted by Mark Herringshaw

I have a new spiritual director: the four year old daughter of a friend who confides her heart to God the way she whispers to her Teddy Bear and the way she giggles when her father whisks her off her feet. I don’t often put “play” and “pray” together in the same sentence; she does. Not that she’d actually say it in those terms, but she acts it in those terms. I use other language to modify my efforts at praying, words like “labor,” “discipline,” “perseverance,” and “pressing through.” For me, talking to God takes the form of a mission of utmost serious business. For my four year old mentor, prayer is simple and pure wonder. I have a lot to learn, and unlearn to discover the “play” in “pray.”

Not easy! Last week I attended a conference hosted by my home church, a Lutheran Church mind you. During an extended time of music and worship someone in the crowd inflated five beach balls and began batting them about. Yes, I said “beach balls” in a worship service in a Lutheran Church! A rush of giddiness broke loose among the 2,500 people present. They began to play through the songs of worship, and the songs thanking God, and the songs asking God to do something. As we prayed we played. And there, in the middle of it all was my friend’s daughter dancing – yes, I said “dancing” in a Lutheran Church – and marching and waving things in the air as if she owned the place. Of course, as a daughter of the True King, she most certainly did own the place.

Jesus said that unless I come to God as a child, a small child, I can’t find my way into his Kingdom. Coming as a child means coming with beach balls, with dancing, with things waved in the air, and with my heart laid bare. Praying as a child means playing as a child. Of course! After all, in light of all eternity we’re all still like tiny children. The sooner we see this and relate to God as we really are – dependent, unpretentious tikes – the better and truer our prayers.

My pray quotient needs the play quotient.

How can you increase your play as you pray? Play is different for everyone. Maybe you play by walking in the woods, or skydiving, or painting a picture, or making music, or making love. Anything pure as play can also become a way to pray, when we focus the fun on and with God! Try it.

The Sex Prayer

posted by Mark Herringshaw

Last week writer Matthew Paul Turner dedicated a week on his blog, “Jesus Needs New PR” to talking about sex. He calls it “Sex Needs New PR.” Jennifer Schuchmann, my co-writer on Six Prayers God Always Answers, and Nine Ways God Always Speaks added a post on prayer and sex. In “Prayer Plain and Simple” we’re talking about praying for EVERYTHING in our lives… Sex counts too. Here’s Jennifer’s take.

I’ve been thinking about desire a lot after a recent conversation with my sister. Annie is married to a Navy man and lives in Italy in a little resort village near her husband’s port. When the men are out to sea, the Navy wives get together and hang out. Annie was surprised that they also wanted to get together when their men were home.

“I didn’t want to go out, I wanted to stay home with Tony,” she told me. “And when we did get together, I couldn’t believe what they were saying. They kept saying that they wanted their husbands to go back out to sea. They were tired of them being around. I don’t understand that,” said Annie. ” I just want to spend every waking moment with Tony. I would be happy just the two of us alone in our house forever.”

Did I mention Annie has been married for less than a year?

And her husband has been gone more than half of that year?

I think we all feel that way when we’re newly married. We can’t get enough of each other; we can’t keep our hands off each other. But somewhere down the road when we’ve been married a few years a phone conversation with a newlywed reminds us we don’t have that same passion and desire for our spouse we once did.

Is this normal?

I’m not sure if it’s normal, but it’s certainly common. Women talk. And I’ve heard women talk about how they don’t want their husband touching them because the kids have been hanging on them all day, or because they’re just too tired from their jobs and taking care of the house. They blame their husbands for not helping and when you’re mad at someone, it’s hard to get excited about having sex with him.

Sometimes desires wanes for a spouse because of physical changes. After you’ve been married for a few years, one (or both!) get a little flabbier, a little grayer, or occasionally have to take a little blue pill to get their blog up, and things just don’t seem as exciting as they once did.

My husband and I have been married for almost twenty years and we’ve experienced all of the above. (Well, except for the little blue pill but that could still be in our future.) Over time we’ve learned some ways to cope. For example, my husband knows the best aphrodisiac for me isn’t foreplay; it’s a clean house. But recently, I’ve discovered there may be another solution to an occasional lack of desire. And believe me it’s an unexpected one.

I co-authored a book with Mark Herringshaw called “Six Prayers God Always Answers.” After the book came out, I started hearing about women praying to always desire their husband. One woman prayed that she would “always thrill to her husband’s touch.” Another prayed that all her children “would be conceived in passion.”

I wrote the book on removing the awkwardness from prayer, but can I just say praying for great sex is A.W.K.W.A.R.D.?

But apparently, it works.

My friend Kelley had an authentic marriage, and by authentic I mean the kind where her husband wanted sex more than she did. But over the years, it came to the point where she never wanted it. She would lie on her back and count ceiling tiles and listen to Fox news for the thirty or so seconds it took to uh, satisfy her man. But Kelley wasn’t happy with this. She believed in her marriage and wanted to find a way to love her husband better so she started to pray. She prayed that God would help her desire her husband.

As Kelley tells it, “It worked. We’re like rabbits. I keep pouring gallons of milk down the drain just to I can send my eighteen-year-old to the store so we can have a few minutes of privacy. We’re doing it upstairs, downstairs, and on the stairs.”

The next time your spouse says, “Not now, I’ve got a headache,” consider it an invitation to pray together as a couple. In fact, I might have to talk to my publisher about revising the book before it comes out in paperback evidently, this is the seventh prayer God always answers.

-To learn more about Jennifer as well as her latest book First Things First, a collaboration with Kurt and Brenda Warner, visit JenniferSchuchmann.com.

QUESTION: How does prayer influence your sex life?

 

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