Prayer, Plain and Simple

Prayer, Plain and Simple

The Good, the Bad, the Ugly… and God

posted by Mark Herringshaw

Either way, we’re doomed to failure!

Go figure. In the last 12 hours I’ve had conversations with two friends; both are in way over their heads; both are struggling with their jobs and businesses; both are desperate for God; each is in virtually the OPPOSITE situation.

My first friend has been a successful business consultant for years. He’s good at what he does. But the economic crisis of the last few months has been brutal on his bottom line. In short, he’s broke and in need of work. He’s been responsible and diligent. But the economy has made it really hard. He’s struggling to pay the bills. This last week he and his wife asked Jill (my wife) and me to pray. We have, and they are at the end of their rope… Good news: just a couple days ago my friend landed a contract that will carry them through. Was this the answer to prayer or just a coincidence? Who knows? We’re all thanking God never the less.

My second friend is in an opposite crisis. His printing business has grown so fast he can’t deliver all his orders. He has business deals coming in one atop the other, and now his 16 hour a day work load is beating him down physically and emotionally. He wasn’t ready to handle this success. He’s in over his head. A week ago my friend sat down and cried out to God, really for the first time in his life. He admitted to God that he couldn’t do this on his own.

Interesting… In both failure and success we need God. And both conditions lead us to the ultimate conclusion that in life we’re doomed to failure. As I said earlier, I think this is how God intends it. He sets us up so that life can’t be lived without partnership withg him. Is this manipulative?

Well, call it what you will; it’s reality. Fact is, prayer becomes our doorway to the ONE relationship that ultimately matters in the most practical way.

Question: Are you out of options? Out of a job? Out of answers? Are you over your head? In this current economy I’m sure many of us are under pressures we can’t handle. Is prayer a copout or a way out? Here’s a challenge: If you’re struggling financially, share that need here and we can muster some prayer support. God hears and responds. Likewise, if you’re over your head with added responsibilities and “success” you need prayer as well. Share those needs here and we can pray for you as well.

“I can’t. You can. Please do. Thank you!”

posted by Mark Herringshaw

I looked at my calendar for the day. It’s packed. A two hour meeting begins at 8:00 AM. Another follows without a break. If I’m efficient, I’ll be able to hurry back to my office for an hour to return calls and emails before another meeting begins at 1:00. At 2:30 I have a conference call after which I’ll  have about 90 minutes at the end of my work day to cram in all the other items on my “gotta get done” list – assuming nothing unexpected comes up.

Then I’ll come home to mow the lawn, throw batting practice to my 11 year old son, barbeque chicken for company that’s coming for dinner, do a late night “Skype” with one of our daughters in Australia, and chat on Facebook with another in South Africa. And I haven’t told you the half of it!

I’m not griping. I love my life and the people who share it with me. But the math simply doesn’t add up. Today has no margin and I’m living on deficit spending before I even start. I’m faced with one more living example that life is a set up for failure. In fact, I firmly believe I’m doomed to failure.

And I think God set it up this way. I think God gives me more than I can handle on purpose, to lead me quickly to the end of my capacity and then to more eagerly partner with him in the details before me.

So this morning I’ve looked again at my calendar and my list of responsibilities and I’ve asked specifically for his efficiency and wisdom in every “must.” I’ve also asked him to weed out the negotiables, to give me courage to say “no” to some things, and to take some things on himself and do them without me.

Frankly, without God’s help, I’m sunk. I admit it, to God first, to myself, and now to you. Life really is a set up for failure. I can’t do my job, love my wife, raise my kids, nurture my friendships or care for myself alone. Won’t happen. So God gives me the gift of prayer, his invitation to “intentional passivity,” where I can admit my need and ask for his aid.

One of my mentors, Morris Vaagenes often repeats a wise and simple prayer that pretty much sums up everything we need to know about life:

“I can’t. You can. Please do. Thank you!”  

Try saying this a few times today to God when you’re in over your head, or confused, or exhausted.

“I can’t. You can. Please do. Thank you!”  

A Prayer for Frank McCourt, His Family and Friends

posted by nsymmonds

“‘I didn’t call myself anything. I was more than a teacher. And less. In the high school classroom you are a drill sergeant, a rabbi, a shoulder to cry on, a disciplinarian, a singer, a low level scholar, a clerk, a referee, a clown, a counselor, a dress-code enforcer, a conductor, an apologist, a philosopher, a collaborator, a tap dancer, a traffic cop, a priest, a mother-father-brother-sister-uncle-aunt, a bookkeeper, a critic, a psychologist, the last straw.’”

Frank McCourt


frankmccourt.jpgFrank McCourt, the Pulitzer Prize winning author of “Angela’s Ashes” is gravely ill with meningitis and is unlikely to survive. Please join us in prayer for this literary great.

Heavenly Father,

I thank you for the life and gifts–writing and teaching–that you have bestowed upon Frank McCourt. Through the trials and tribulations of his life, he used his work as a witness to how he made it through and inspired millions to greater works. I thank you for his life and pray that as this illness is taking him, that many would be inspired to remember what drew them to his work in this world and quicken them to pray for his beautiful release into your arms. Comfort his family and friends at this time of uncertainty. Let this be a moment when they all come together to celebrate him. Let this be a moment when we all come together to celebrate him. May he enter peacefully into your rest and may it be well with his family, his friends and his fans.

In Jesus’ Name,


Join Others in Prayer on this Prayer Circle for Frank McCourt  

“Down-and-Dirty, Honest-to-God!”

posted by Mark Herringshaw

I read again today an old poem of prayer.  It’s 3,000 years old, but tell me, can you relate?

 I waited patiently for the Lord to help me,
      and he turned to me and heard my cry.
 He lifted me out of the pit of despair,
      out of the mud and the mire.
 He set my feet on solid ground
      and steadied me as I walked along.
 He has given me a new song to sing,
      a hymn of praise to our God.
 Many will see what he has done and be amazed.
      They will put their trust in the Lord…

 Lord, don’t hold back your tender mercies from me.
      Let your unfailing love and faithfulness always protect me.
For troubles surround me–
      too many to count!
My sins pile up so high
      I can’t see my way out.
They outnumber the hairs on my head.
      I have lost all courage.

Please, Lord, rescue me!
      Come quickly, Lord, and help me… (Psalm 40:1-3, 11-13)

Desperate. Truthful. Humble. Direct. Real. That’s good and proper prayer.

The author’s name was David, the Hebrew King and his lyrics are in the Bible as Psalm 40. David lived as a man totally honest with God. His prayers didn’t get trapped into formulas or religious rites. He spoke his mind, and his heart. And God honored that simple honesty and said that David had a heart after God’s own heart. I want that as my byline! How? I’ll follow David’s model of down-and-dirty, honest-to-God prayer.  

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