Prayer, Plain and Simple

Prayer, Plain and Simple

Successful New Year Resolutions

posted by Mark Herringshaw

By Mark Herringshaw


“Be it here resolved that in 2010 I will…”


It’s that time once again. December 31st, “National Extreme Makeover Day,” the 24 hour stretch when everything is possible, tomorrow. There’s nothing particularly magical about this day, yet because of our need for renewal we use it as an opportunity to reboot, and state, officially, “from hence forward “I will…” or “I will not…” Hope springs eternal in the human heart…



About 100 million of us will make some form of formal New Year resolution this week. We will be healthier. We will get finances in order. We will learn something new. We will improve relationships. We will prepare for eternity. We will…



Will our promises work? Will we work? Will they last through to February? Will we last?

Goal setting experts suggest five simple steps that dramatically increase the likelihood that New Year resolutions will prompt genuine transformation in our lives.


1)    Make our intentions measurable and specific. I need to lose weight and I’m putting that objective into a concrete goal: “I will weigh 185 pounds on March 8, 2010 and stay there until December 31, 2010.”  



2)    Write them. Putting goals into words works a wonder. Psychologists suggest this exercise frees the left brain from asking “what?” and releases the right brain to solve “how?” I’m putting goals into words here and now… You can do the same in the comments section below if you choose!


3)    Tell someone. Asking for accountability from someone we trust brings extra leverage to our commitments. I’m sharing my resolutions with a friend I’m meeting with tomorrow. On top of that, I’m going public with one of them here…  



4)    Formalize no more than five personal goals at a time. Five is the capacity of our focus. Trimming my “wishes” down to five priorities is difficult but necessary if I’m going to move beyond “hope” to “will.”


5)    Pray. Yes, pray. I realize up front that I’m doomed to fail with all my plans to change myself. Yes, disillusion too is a necessary step, and with it a cry for help. Jesus once said, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” In other words, all my intentions and plans AND commitments and disciplines Will in the end fall short. I’m not strong enough or focused enough, even with all the right strategies. Yes, I can improve the odds of success, but I can never dodge Jesus’ tenet: “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” My spiritual mentor, Morris Vaagenes once put this principle into a prayer: “I can’t, you can, please do, thank you!” That is the key to transformation… and resolution… I can’t. Jesus can, through me. I can ask for that change, and then thank him for that completed promise.


“God, I want to change. I need to change. You made me for more than I am. But the truth is, I need more than my own resolve. I need you. I can’t make the changes I must. Please work in me to lead me toward my destiny. Give me strength and determination and focus and the humility to ask you to work when and where I cannot. Thank you ahead of time for your strength to accomplish your purposes in me. In Jesus…

I’ve written a book about his process of genuine transformation called “The Karma of Jesus.” Explore it and let me know what you think.


A blessed, complete and EFFECTIVE New Years to you!


A Prayer on “Good Riddance Day”

posted by Mark Herringshaw

Today is “Good Riddance Day.” At this moment in Times Square, New York, several hundred people are arriving lugging cardboard boxes of old income tax records, mortgage papers, old music recordings, and photographs, anything that brings bad memories from 2009. They’re scrawling on slips of paper last year’s failed resolutions and the doubts and fears that keep them from believing next year can be different. Then they’ll running it all through a shredder…. “Out with the old; in with the new!” Last year at this time one man dragged a monstrous red suitcase fill with his “stuff” on the subway all the way from Brooklyn – anything to dump the old and start fresh!



“Good Riddance Day,” is sponsored by a business group called Times Square Alliance.  Every year on this day The Alliance rents a five-foot-tall, beige industrial shredder and installs it in the lobby of the Times Square Information Center. They invite New York residents to haul their wreckage to the site for disposal. Their Web site urges residents to “join us in mashing a year’s worth of bad hairstyles, loathed music, fashion disasters and ill-fated romances into an unrecognizable pulp of bad Karma and negative vibes — which will then be carted off, never to be seen again.”



In 2007 one woman threw ran though a photograph of her ex-fiancé posing with his current companion. A man brought a photograph of his appendix after it was removed during an emergency operation performed last May. He tossed the picture and some medical bills into the shredder. “It’s a painful memory,” he said.


I’m sympathetic. I love the thought of a fresh start. Ram yesterday through a shredder and “presto chango,” a new life! Wouldn’t it be dandy if that’s how transformation really worked? Our western New Years, coming as it does in the dead of winter, offers a parabolic opportunity to decide for change just when things look darkest: lose weight, quit nagging, read more books, stop being a jerk. We promise ourselves what we wish to be. “Henceforth,” we vow, “things shall be different.”



But of course wishing doesn’t make it so. The “trash” of our past can’t be magically made to disappear. But that’s the wonder of the Christian message: While an industrial shredder won’t do the trick, the cross of Christ will. It’s not magic, but it is a miracle! Jesus is our true means of “good riddance.” With him I can take my “box of trash” to him and he’ll shred it to nothing.  


Anyone out there need to “run 2009 through a shredder? Do you need to say “good riddance!” to some tough times, bad choices, lousy breaks, weak intentions? If so, let us know. Go public. Stake your claim and give it all to Jesus.



If it will help, write your “riddance” below. Then as you do, pray for others who are doing the same. “Out with the old; in with the new.” As Paul the Apostle puts it, “The old has passed away, the new has come!”


“God you do offer a new beginning. You offer to take away my  and bury the pin your own heart of love. An industrial shredder won’t do the trick, but your commitment to give me a new start is a give you truly deliver. I take that now. I release to you the “mess” of my past and take instead a chance to begin again. In Jesus…”



I’ve written a book about this process of genuine transformation called “The Karma of Jesus.” Explore it and let me know what you think, “Good riddance… in Jesus!”


A Prayer for the Solemnity of Christmas

posted by nsymmonds

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman…”

Galatians 4:4

God with us,

I’ve come to see you. I’m not as clean as I wish I was, but I’m hoping you’ll receive me just as you did the rough, and sweaty shepherds who burst in on you on that holy night so long ago. They were afraid. I guess that spectacular light show in the sky got to them. I wish I felt more afraid than I do. I should, considering this is it: the Incarnation. But all of this is so simple; so ordinary. No, it’s less than ordinary. This is abject poverty. Most babies aren’t born where the livestock is. I keep asking myself, how can this be God? Yet, here you are. I know it’s you, because here I am, on my knees, and my heart is aflame within me.


It isn’t as pristine as the Christmas cards make it seem. It’s cold, and drafty, and filthy, and it smells of animals and dung in here. No wise men are hovering over you with their gifts. The shepherds aren’t even here. Just me, and your folks, and my hands are empty. But Lord, seeing you like this, so vulnerable, my heart is full.

Look at you in that feeding trough. I can’t get over how tiny you are, but oh. You are perfect. The scriptures say when you grow up you won’t be much to look at, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a gorgeous child. I hope I always see you like this: beautiful, new, and surprising.

Oh my! Your mom is bringing you to me! Thank you, Mary. You really are full of grace. This is incredible! I feel so clumsy, Lord. Like I can hurt you if I’m not careful. But you feel so good in my arms. You’re like a warm little ball of pure love. Can you feel me shaking? I’m undone. You’re right here at my heart. I wish I could stop time right here, and hold you like this forever, loving on you, and kissing you like this.


You still smell like the blood from your mother’s womb. Oh, Jesus. You’ll have this same coppery scent again in about 33 years. But it’ll be a much bloodier occasion than your birth. That time, you’ll be dying, so that I can be born anew. Have mercy. I don’t want to think about what I’m going to put you through. Not today. But I can’t help it.

Oh, man. Forgive me, Jesus. I’m crying all over you. You’re the baby, but I’m the one blubbering. I’m not trying to scare you on your birthday, but the shadow of the cross is on this barn, and there isn’t a thing I can do to stop what’s going to happen to you. So, I’ll just continue to hold you tight, if you don’t mind. If I can keep you close to me we may just get through the rest of your story together. Despite how small you are, I’m the one that needs you to save me. This is craziness, but this is the way you chose to do it. Who can understand such mysteries?


I’m amazed that you can fall asleep in my guilty arms. Maybe you’re so quiet and peaceful because even now you know you’ll make it all right. Oh, Lord. Who can understand such mysteries? It’s mind blowing enough to think that you are here: God as a baby, born in the humility of a barn, resting in my arms, my ragged heartbeat sounding in your tiny ear. And you will not forget me.
Amazing grace.

Sleep in heavenly peace, Lord Jesus. And welcome. I’m glad you’re here.


Advent Prayer, Day 26: Welcoming the Light

posted by nsymmonds

By Claudia Mair Burney

Christmas Eve

“While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child.” Luke 2:6 NRSV
Light of the world,

The people walking in darkness await you. We who are living in the land of the shadow of death have fixed our eyes to the sky for the dawning of your light. Strong God, coming in the fragile flesh of a baby, there is no room in the inn for your exhausted father and laboring mother. But we are here, watching for the light, scrambling to sweep our hearts clean, and flinging the doors to our messy lives wide open in the shadowy night.

“Come, Lord Jesus.”

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