Prayer, Plain and Simple

Prayer, Plain and Simple

Jesus Tames Chaos

posted by Mark Herringshaw

My garage has a mind of its own. I’m not particularly sentimental, but it seems to like to collect things I otherwise don’t know what to do with. Chaos wants to reigns there and plots to put things out of synch, out of order, out of bounds, and out of gas. If I weren’t brutally ruthless every spring and fall, the mess would spread like a fungus through the rest of my domain. I’m sure of it. Truth be told, entropy is a rabid rodent nipping at my heels, just waiting for a moment of sloth and the chance to devour everything. Jesus understood this. He knew that without intentional order, disorder would quickly take over the world. He had an answer, and it’s still an answer fit for today. He simply spoke to the mess and told it where to go!


“Be still!” (Mark 4:39)


What is out of control in your life?


Coup d’état! And The world runs wild! Finances inexplicably diminish Time slips away. Your body stiffens against your will. You sneeze, and detonate a hurricane. How easily the earth demolishes itself into chaos!


Jesus once slept through a storm. “Don’t you care?” his sea-wise companions yelled. He woke and spoke to the winds, “Peace, be still!” The winds remembered the Voice. They paused and returned obediently to a state of rest.


“Be still!” was enough. How easily the earth could destroy itself! And it would, but for two words: “Be still!” When Jesus talks, everything listens. As Creator, he holds everything back from smashing itself into bits.


“And where is your faith?” he asked his crew. Settling storms is assigned to Jesus-followers. He owns the world; but you and I manage day-to-day operations – with borrowed words. His words in our mouths are as His words in His.


Answer a confused mind: “Be still!” Answer a child’s tantrum: “Be still!” Answer disorderly closets, a bad memory, loose tongue, and foul moods: “Be still!” Gently, directly, persistently speak your peace: “Be still!” You don’t battle people or things; but the ruffian trying to destroy people and things. “Be still,” is all we need for storms that unsettle your world. “Be moved” is all we need for mountains in your way.


Your mission: Find the trouble that has found you. Walk into the eye of the storm and whisper two words borrowed from Jesus: “Be still!” That settles that!


Question: “What is out of control?” Answer: “Be still!”


Say so! And find out more in the free ebook Fight Like Jesus at

Praying-in Breakfast

posted by Mark Herringshaw

“Give us today our daily bread”


What’s for breakfast? That’s an important question, one of the most important questions in our family, and probably in yours too. Jesus said we don’t live by bread alone – we also need nourishment for the spiritual elements in our lives – but we do need real food. We have bodies and we must care for them. God knows this, and he invites us to ask him to carry the load of responsibility for supplying these practical needs. We can pray for breakfast.


According to the book of Exodus when Moses led the Hebrew slaves from Egypt to freedom God began covering the ground around their camps each morning with a miraculous food called “manna.” Manna means, “What is it?” in Hebrew because on the first day Israel had no idea what the stuff was. God promised the Jews that he would supply manna every morning and he warned them not to horde more than a single day ration: He wanted them to trust him!


When Jesus invites us to pray “Give us today our daily bread” he is harkening back to God’s proven faithfulness with Israel in the desert. “God is Provider” is one of God’s names.  And in this plank of the prayer we challenge God to make this general promise for provision personal and specific for us. We are urged to ask!


Jesus reinforces this same point on several occasions. In the Sermon on the Mount, the same section of Matthew where the Lord’s Prayer is recorded, Jesus tells his followers “Ask and you will receive” (Matthew 7:7).  He dares us to dare God to meet our most practical necessities. 


Taking this challenge to heart we can amplify this prayer phrase by “muttering” to God our own list of needs and desires. “Father, your name is Provider.  So I am coming to you with these real needs that are pressing today… Please give me wisdom as I talk with Charlie about the contract.  And give me courage as I confront Margie.  Please provide the finances we need for Jared’s college bills… Thank you that you have always answered our needs in the past.”  


Bold. Specific. Simple. Our requests for “daily bread” are predicated on numerous promises God has made to provide for those who trust him. By anchoring our prayers onto these promises we can come to God not begging, but appealing specifically for what he has already allocated.


Raising He…aven on Earth

posted by Mark Herringshaw

“Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as in heaven”


Minnesota is not heaven, I assure you, especially in February. Even now, in August’s green, lush, heavy and humid dog days, it’s a far distance from paradise. The mosquitoes make that clear!


“…As it is in heaven.” God’s will is always done in Heaven. Justice reigns there. A perpetual party rolls on and on. As C.S. Lewis puts it, “Joy is the chief business of heaven.”


Earth… Minnesota… is a different matter.  Earth is not Heaven. Justice and joy are not universal here. A once over through the morning paper proves that plagues, storms, wars, corruption, violence and corporate deception reign on earth on August 22nd. Heaven’s another story.


Prayer bridges the gap between domains. Through prayer we welcome God’s rule into our dimension. We open a conduit for God to invade and convert these elements into outposts of Heaven.  With prayer we “vote” to allow God to annex pieces of our world into Heaven’s civic boundaries.


By declaring, “…on earth as it is in heaven” from the Lord’s prayer, we connect the dots between aspects of God’s name (those we explored yesterday in “hallowed be your name”) with degenerated situations in the world. This plank of prayer brings God’s perfect nature and the world’s imperfection into an exploding collision.


Example: We might amplify this part of the Lord’s Prayer saying, “God you are perfect Peace. This is your name. But today there is not much peace in my home. There is tension and distrust and anger. Please come and take over this small part of the world.  Push out what is wrong and Fill my house here on earth with the same atmosphere of rest and security that fills your house in Heaven?”  


By teaching us to dare and ask, “your Kingdom come,” Jesus invites us to invite God to extend his government over the targets of our prayer: the lives of our children, our finances, minds, bodies, emotions, our circles of relationships, our nation, the natural world.


In prayer we proclaim the simple universal fact of God’s authority. Then we ask God to enforce this fact in areas that have – up this point – refused to acknowledge Him.  


Action: Audit your life and start a list of names of people in your circle and particular situations you’re facing. Say these names to God, and add the line, “Let you Kingdom come [in George's life... in my marriage... in the nation of Congo...] as it is in heaven.” Then the adventure begins and continues when things actually begin to change!

“Jesus Guns Down Sin”

posted by Mark Herringshaw

We don’t like the word “sin” anymore. Call them “mistakes,” or “Karma,” or “disabilities,” or “disorders” – anything but “sin.” Well, a rose by any other name smells as sweet, and a portable toilet by any other name smells as foul. Sin, no matter what we call it reeks, and spawns ill effects in my life. Lies. Fear. Lust. Sloth. The whole lousy lot would ruin my destiny! But Jesus demonstrates I’m not a victim, or at least don’t have to remain one. Jesus hits sin square on the jaw and breaks its grip. And it does the trick with two simple words. He’s how…


“Be clean!” (Mark 1:40)


Is there sin in your life?


“&^$#@*?&er!” Your enemy hates you. He knows where to strike. He coins a word for every sin you’ve committed. “Thief.” “Coward.” “Lech.” “You’re %#x!?*&ed and unclean!” He is right; and he has the right to say so. What you have done and left undone has corrupted creation. Every misstep is compounded into catastrophe. You are responsible for all the pain in the world.


A loathsome leper forced his way to Jesus. The despair of 40 generations was eating him alive. Unclean. Untouchable. Unbearable. But the man grew desperate. “Jesus, if you are willing you can make me clean.” “I am willing,” Jesus replied. Then he touched him. He touched him and became like a leper himself! “Be clean!” he said. And that was that.


“Be clean!” was enough. Basic algebra balanced the equation. Jesus exchanged heaven’s purity for a leper’s oozing sores. With that, the Son of God died in his place.


Your enemy has you on trial. He intends to sentence you to you to hell. “Guilty!” he scoffs. And how will you plead? Say what Jesus said. “Be clean!” and refute the charge.

 Announce to your mind: “Be clean!” Announce to your eyes: “Be clean!” Announce to your tongue, your hands, your feet, your heart: “Be clean!” Inside your soul and on behalf of others, put these two words to work.


Your mission: Listen to the prosecutor’s case. Admit guilt, but do not accept the sentence. Plead the Great Exchange – his life for mine – and “Be clean!” Then watch as all liability washes down the drain of God’s forgetfulness.


Question: “Where is there sin?” Answer: “Be clean!”


Explore more about this in the free ebook Fight Like Jesus at

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