Prayer, Plain and Simple

Prayer, Plain and Simple

Ted Kennedy, “A Man of Quiet Prayer”

posted by nsymmonds

As the nation mourns the passing of Senator Ted Kennedy, many are coming to find out about parts of his personality that were otherwise hidden or overshadowed by his political personality. In a WCVB-TV Boston Channel story, Kennedy was described as “a man of quiet prayer” up until his final hours last night. Even in the midst of his debilitated state, he led the prayer following the death of his sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver. He will be remembered as a devout man by friends, family and the clergy whom he was close with, and it is my prayer that the millions around the world who are mourning the passing of Senator Ted Kennedy would remember him in this same light. Please join me in prayer.

Heavenly Father,

I thank you for the life of Senator Ted Kennedy. You gave him a rich life on this earth and I pray that now you can say, “Well done my good and faithful servant.” I pray that though many are mourning the loss of this extraordinary man, they will remember to celebrate his life. To his family, I pray in the words of the prophet Isaiah, that you will give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. Be with them in their time of despair and comfort them. Let it be well with their souls that Ted is absent from the body but present with you. May we all be encouraged by Ted’s life and work and continue to work for the good of our brothers and sisters. May we also find encouragement in the manner in which he spent his last days and hours, in prayer. May it serve as a reminder that you are with us, listening to us and comforting us all the way to our last breath. May we continually seek your face.

In Jesus’ Name,


Praying in the Middle of Misunderstanding

posted by Mark Herringshaw

Sometimes words don’t work. Sometimes the harder we try to make ourselves understood and to understand in return, the more clumsy and confused we become in our relationships.


I had one of those experiences today. I needed clear communication with someone very close to me, but clear communication was the last thing we were getting. Static and noise and confusion and miscues and mistakes… I couldn’t say what I meant and I didn’t mean what I was saying. We ended heading off down some rabbit trail of confusion that led us to a tar pit of accusations and old dredged up resentments. Anyone out there relate?


Sometimes I think that communication is really impossible. That’s why we need to pray. God began everything with words. In fact, Jesus IS the word. In short, God is a communicator and he can help us with ours.


When you’re stuck in a quagmire of miscommunication with someone, intercede and ask God to step in as translator and peacemaker. He’s an expert.  

He’s another piece from Mark’s Gospel about these wonderful wonder words of Jesus… and how we can turn them loose in the world.  

“Be opened” (Mark 7:34)


“What blocks communication?”


“The bladderman waggered plost the alton plicker in a mastish plog of ferderic.” Babel makes aliens of us all. We hear noises, but only vaguely comprehend. We make noises, and only occasionally make sense. Communication is not difficult, it is impossible… until Jesus comes to clear the white noise.


A crowd brought Jesus a lonely man who could neither hear nor speak. If he had been stranded on a desert island, he could hardly have been more solitary. Jesus pulled him aside… to be alone with him. He put his fingers in the man’s ears, spit on his own hand and touched the man’s tongue. No words were exchanged. Then Jesus commanded, “Ephphatha!” “Be opened!” Immediately the man’s ears popped. He could hear. The next moment, his tongue was loosed. He could speak.


“Be opened” was enough. “For him who has ears to hear, let him hear!” Jesus boomed. And so, the miracle of communication and relationship is granted.


The enemy separates us from relationships. Oh, how he hates Jesus’ words of love and reconciliation! He stuffs ears and numbs tongues, fearing the power of words to create, connect, and call things that are not as though they were. He dreads words that become fresh; so he snuffs them at their source, or muddles them in flight, or ambushes them at their destination. Until Jesus speaks in response!


Answer misunderstanding: “Be opened!” Answer miscalculation: “Be opened!” Answer mistrust and missed opportunities and missing friendship, “Be opened!” Answer deaf ears and muted tongues and deadened communication, “Be opened.” Say so!


Your mission: Listen for words falling to the ground. Watch for the dull expressions of confusion and the empty stares of imprisoned souls. See bewilderment and deception for what they are – lies from hell! Hear the silence of hearts who cannot hear clear truth. Then break that silence with the gift of a healthy relationship. Speak Jesus’ words, “Be opened.” Then step back and listen as the reservoir of dammed up communication breaks loose!


Question: “What blocks communication?” Answer: “Be opened!”


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Deliver Us from Evil

posted by Mark Herringshaw

“Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one…”


According to Jesus the world, as we know it is not the world God intends.  The prayer tenet “your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” rests upon this premise.  Not everything that happens is God’s will.  Some things are not as they should be, and we should want those things to be otherwise, just as God wants them to be otherwise.  Prayer asks God to stop evil and repair the damage it perpetrates. 


God does not cause brokenness.  Nor does it erupt by accident.  Jesus contends that evil is forced into the world by a deliberate Will,  the “Evil One,” he calls the devil.  Christians believe that evil has a personality and a willful intent. 


Jesus closes his prayer model by directing his followers to ask God for two specific forms to protection.  First we are to ask that God will direct their life paths away from pitfalls and distractions: the effects of evil in the world.  King Solomon once said, “In all your ways acknowledge him [God] and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:6).  Jesus also tells us to pray for rescue against the willful force of the Cause of evil. 


We are to ask God to intervene with our interests and his in mind in words like, “Father, you have a ‘top of the mountain’ perspective.  Please steer the course of my life away from anything that could detract me from my destiny.  And when you see the Evil One moving to thwart your plans for me, intervene and stop him!”

Forgiveness – the Caveat

posted by Mark Herringshaw

“Forgive us our trespasses…” Then Jesus in his great prayer adds one line of fine print to this too-good-not-to-be-true offer: “…As we forgive those who trespass against us.”   


Hmmm. Strings attached?


Evidently, if we ask for release from God from the responsibility of paying back our debt from messing over his world, then we must in tandem extend release to anyone owing us for debt accrued by wrongs committed against us. 


This proves a crucial point for Jesus.  He adds immediately following the “Lord’s Prayer,” “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”


Prayer asking for forgiveness from God must include prayer that offers release to others.  A prayer in this pattern might look like this: “Father God, I ask for your release of my guilt.  The lie I told last week has proved very damaging.  I cannot stop the effects.  Forgive my guilt.  And with this I release Charlie for the lie he told about me.  I will not bring a charge against him.  I trust you to work out the justice…”


Jesus assures us that prayers like this move God’s heart and God’s hand. 


And how?

- Ask God to reveal any harbored unforgiveness (Matt. 6:14)

- Allow Jesus to carry this hurt in your place (Is. 53:4)

- Ask that God will bless this person as he sees fit (Matt. 5:44)


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