Prayer, Plain and Simple

Prayer, Plain and Simple

A prayer for anyone with a broken heart

posted by Mark Herringshaw

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18).

 

The image of heartbreak describing the devastating emotional pain of a broken relationship transcends culture and is expressed in the same way in almost every language.  We feel the pain of betrayal and separation deeply at the core of our soul.  It feels as if our heart really is breaking – because of course, it is. God understands this experience because he himself has lived through a broken heart.  God has been a jilted lover. Through his love for us, he has endured unfaithfulness and desertion. God understands our loneliness and identifies with us. We can talk to him about this experience and ask him for help at our deepest point of despair – because he’s been there himself!

 

Here is a prayer for those who have suffered a broken heart.

 

“God, you care deeply for broken-hearted people.  This is a promise you make: You are close.  We pray for all those who are crippled by broken relationships.  Our hearts take the blow of disappointment.  We feel crushed because our hopes are dashed.  God, heal broken hearts.  We cannot fix our own wounds.  But you can.  If pieces of our heart have been lost, or are held captive by another, recover them and bring them back to us and miraculously “put us back together” so that our heart is whole again.  You are a mender of broken hearts.  We ask for this miracle, in the name of Jesus.”

God, the Jilted Lover, a Friend of Jilted Lovers

posted by Mark Herringshaw

 

Love hurts. Last night I sat and listened to a young woman, a friend of Jill, my wife, tell the devastating story of her recent breakup with her boyfriend. I listened, then prayed that God would heal her wounds and give her miraculous hope. It will take a miracle. But God does miracles.

 

Getting close to anyone is dangerous. Loving brings the risk of disappointment. As I sat and listened and prayed, I found myself impacted by her grief and sharing her sorrow. Getting close to God can be dangerous too, not because we risk getting “dumped” – God never leaves us – but because intimacy means coming into contact with the virus of his passion.  Often God’s passion is tinged with pain, the pain he knows from being
“dumped” himself. That virus of grief is contagious.  I become infected with God’s passion when I sit and listen to his own sad stories of loves lost. God has a lot of those, even some with my name attached. But that is the cost of intimacy with anyone, even God. Get close, get some pain. Prayer, the vehicle for getting close to God ALWAYS has an emotional side. I’m not a naturally emotional person, but praying forces me there, like it or not.

 

In Six Prayers God Always Answers we relay the Old Testament story of Hosea, a man who learned by experience the agony and ecstasy of loving God.

 

Long ago, in the days of Israel’s divided kingdom, 750 years before the birth of Jesus, there lived a prudish, upright bachelor-hermit named Hosea. Hosea was known in Israel as a marginal mystic. He experienced trances and dreams and announced them to the world as the word of the Lord. Hosea was a prophet.

 

At the time, the religion of Canaan was a fertility cult that linked the land’s fruitfulness to the marital bliss of gods and goddesses. When the male god Baal and his female consort, Asherah, were intimate, the land produced crops. The worship of Baal and Asherah at local shrines became an ongoing orgy. Male and female prostitutes joined in erotic acts with worshippers to stimulate the gods and make the land fertile. By the time of Hosea, Canaanite worship had polluted Israel’s worship of YHWH.

 

With this cultural backdrop, God presented the prophet Hosea a special, though pitiable, assignment. “Go find a young Hebrew woman. Woo her. Love her. And marry her.”

 

For a bachelor like Hosea, those must have been exciting and terrifying words, especially as God continued, “But I warn you, if you love her, as you must, she will break your heart and leave you for another. Now go.”

 

Hosea obeyed.

 

Stepping outside the walls of his cloistered life he found and fell passionately in love with the young, promiscuous, and likely beautiful, party girl named Gomer. He won her hand, married her, and brought her back to the safety of his home. There they began a family together, raising three children. 

 

Time passed. We’re not told how long. But eventually God’s dire warning came true. Gomer left Hosea and her children and returned to her wild ways. It broke Hosea’s heart.

 

Gomer was typical of the young women in her culture. She was a liberated worshipper of Asherah, religiously faithful to the fertility cult. But Under Hosea’s roof, she was restrained from her promiscuity. Ultimately, she was drawn back to what she had known.

 

God again approached Hosea. “Now you know,” he said. “You know how I feel. I loved my people. I was married to them and passionately enthralled by them. But they have forgotten me.”

 

So in chapter two of Hosea we see the Creator of the universe and Hosea, this poor, broken man, sitting on the equivalent of a modern-day front porch and having a long cry together. They understand each other’s pain–the bitterness of injustice.

 

Misery loves company… because it needs company.  

 

As two jilted lovers dry their tears and wipe their noses, God turns to Hosea and says, “Go get her. Bring her back. And love her again.”

 

Hosea listens because this is what God is doing. He too has loved and been rejected, but his love never fails, and he chooses to give his heart away knowing he will be rejected again.

 

Hosea goes out into the street and finds Gomer. fees in bondage, having sold herself into temple prostitution. Hosea buys her freedom, though it costs him everything. For the balance of her bill he must barter away his own food.

 

He takes her home. Again.

 

Could it be that the injustices we experience, the anger and heartbrokenness we feel, bring us closer to God?

 

Question: Has your own broken-heart ever driven you closer to God?  

 

 

 

 

For God’s Sake, Say Something!

posted by Mark Herringshaw

I grew up with an image of Jesus as a meek and mild saint.  But when I explore the gospels I see another side of him: Jesus the warrior. 

This may not be popular notion, but it is undeniable.  Jesus came with a mission, on purpose.  He came as a liberator, and a fighter.  The question is not if Jesus fights, but how.  How do we “Fight Like Jesus?” As I look at the stories of Jesus life and examine the ways he handled conflict, I see someone who was anything but timid.  When Jesus entered a battle he fought not with physical weapons, but with words.  Jesus sees the primary conflict in the universe as a war of words.  He defeated his foes – which were not human – by what he said.  He enlists us, and invites us to borrow his words and join the fray – as we pray!

I have fleshed out this idea in a short ebook called, Fight Like Jesus. It’s available for free download on Prodigal Get it. Read it. Then let’s talk.

Catching God’s Virus

posted by Mark Herringshaw

There’s a lot of talk these days about flu bugs and pandemics. Is God contagious? If we get close, can we “catch” whatever he has? Here’s a bit from my book, Nine Ways God Always Speaks. Beware.

 

Getting close to God and being infected by his emotion ruins many people for ordinary life. But it prepares them for an extraordinary one. The apostle Paul said in his letter to the Christians at Philippi, “I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!

 

How well do you want to know Christ?

How much do you want to feel what he feels?

How much do you want him to speak to you?

 

Emotions are easily transmitted from one person to another, yet many of us don’t share God’s emotions. By the sheer force of his presence, there is nothing to stop him from taking over the mood of a room, no matter whether Momma’s happy or not. It seems God doesn’t take over our emotions by force, or the force of his personality.

 

For God’s emotions to become dominant in a room, we have to choose to get close to him, to mimic him, to experience emotions as he feels them. This is a cognizant act. An act of thinking, of choosing to be infected, that only then leads to feeling.

 

You’ve probably experienced a time when you consciously turned your thoughts over to God–in an extraordinary moment of worship, at the death bed of a loved one, or the birth of a baby. At that moment, everyone in the room seemed to sacrifice their own thoughts to catch the feelings of those around them. For a moment, they chose to be infected with God.

 

If we want to hear God speak through our emotions…

we must choose to mimic him.

When we mimic him… his emotions become our emotions.

When we imitate him…we take on his feelings.

 

We began this chapter by acknowledging that many people think our intellect is less corrupted than our emotional side. But we end a chapter on emotions with the need to make a conscious choice to feel what God feels. It is a thinking act of our free will to be infected emotionally by God.

 

Get close to him and feel what he feels.

Stand back and you will miss his emotions.

It is a thinking choice that decides what you’ll feel.

Perhaps you should let your conscience be your guide.

Question: When you pray, do you ever feel God’s emotions? What is that like?

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