Prayer, Plain and Simple

Prayer, Plain and Simple

All the Rage

posted by Mark Herringshaw

Short fuses are “all the rage.” Very, VERY public outbursts this week at the US Open – ala Serena Williams and Roger Federer, during President Obama’s health care pep talk before Congress – Representative Joe Wilson, and at the MTV Video Music Awards – Kanye West have made it to the front pages of our newspapers and spiked to the top of YouTube hit lists. Evidently, we’re angry out there. So, what the “bleep” has gotten into us?!

Actually, nothing. It’s just all more of the same, more evidence that we in our natural human state are prone to self destruction and other destruction.  

I’m not immune. Are you? While I’ve never “lost it” in such a public platform, I have, a time or two, had my own personal emotional meltdown. And I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. In fact, I’m learning in “old age” (I’m nearly 50) that releasing anger – in the right way – can actually be productive. Maybe I’m finally learning to grow up. Placid Mr. Rogers advised his wee watchers to “share your feelings.” His song “What do you do with the mad that you feel?” talks about directing our frustrations, not repressing them.

Good luck! To manage this feat we need, I believe a dose of supernatural “self control.” Without that, we’re prone to the same fate all civilizations ahead of us have faced – self-imposed extinction. I say “supernatural” because controlling anger isn’t “natural” to any human. Like all mammals, we’re instinctive, and when we “feel” something – something or someone getting in our way for instance – we don’t just “think” it’s inconvenient, we “feel” the rage. From the reptilian sector of our brains, we react!

But God asks more of us. He calls us to live above our instincts, to master them with our wills. The challenge is that imposing restrictions on our behavior, either personally through self discipline, or socially through the mores of our culture, only go so far. God asks something of us that we can’t deliver! We can suppress anger or any other passion, but eventually it will leak or explode onto the scene. True self control is not “self” at all. And this is where God comes in.

I was reading this morning – again – Paul’s words in Galatians. “The fruit of the Spirit is… self control.” Beside my Bible is the St. Paul newspaper with pictures on the front page of Joe Wilson, Kanye West and Serena Williams. The paradox could not have been more drastic. Self-control is actually Spirit control, or it isn’t anything. Wilson, West, Williams and Herringshaw do not have the capacity on their own for “Self” control. That has to come as a “fruit” – a supernatural outgrowth – of God’s presence in my life. If and only if I step aside and let God live Life through me, I can experience self control. That kind of self control is not myself, but God’s divine Self.

This is where prayer matters. In true prayer I step aside and invite God to live his life through me. On my own, I’ll make a muck of things. I’ll lose my cool and hurt people. But if Jesus, through his Spirit lives his life through me, his character becomes mine! It’s possible.

Question: Have you ever had a Serena-Williams moment? Have you tried to cap your passions only to have them explode in ways that hurt others? Talk about that here.

Here’s a prayer for God’s “Self Control:”

“God, on my own I don’t have the capacity to manage my passions. I don’t even understand where they all come from and while I have tried to control them, they seem at times wild and out of my grasp. I give you access to all of my soul, and I ask you to take what is me and give me what is you. You are self control, it is part of your character. Come live that through me now.”


Prayers for our Children’s Education

posted by Mark Herringshaw

Each day this month we’ve been posting one prayer for our children and their education. They have just begun school and this is a great time to send them off with our blessing. God cares about our children and their practical lives, their health, their learning, their relationships. Below I have included a prayer for each of the remaining days of the month:


September 15: Lord, without your help we are helpless, so as parents, be our guide as to how we can best communicate and encourage our teachers.


September 16: Lord, you love children, help the adults who come in contact with our students to see them the way you see them.


September 17: Lord of healing and health protect our school from the outbreak of communicable diseases.


September 18: God you love to communicate help the administrators to communicate like you would when dealing with sensitive issues between teachers and parents.


September 19: Lord, we ask your favor and blessing for this school.


September 20: God, we know we can trust you, so we ask you to have your way with this school, your agenda not ours.


September 21: Lord, hear our prayer as we ask for your mercy and grace as we get in the way of what you want to do at this school.


September 22: Lord, you are a God of Peace. Create and environment of discipline and order in our school.


September 23: God, your presence generates calm and confidence. Quiet the hearts of any troubled students and give them your peace.


September 24: God, you guard us physically, emotionally, spiritually. Create a safe and peaceful atmosphere in this school and shield everyone from any threats of violence.


September 25: God, you are a healer. Isolate and eliminate the spread of cold and flu viruses in this school. Give the staff wisdom to protect the health of students.  


September 26: God, you are the source of all wisdom and knowledge. Bless the learning process in each classroom. Give each teacher a renewed passion for his/her subject and creative ideas for lesson plans. Give them insight to know how to help each student understand and learn.


September 27: Father, you are our true father. Bless the families represented in this school. Shield each student from any dangers in their home, and bring them all to complete emotional health.


Question: Are you seeing in responses to your prayers for your children? Let us know…

Start Praying for Kanye West, Stop Talking

posted by nsymmonds

From 9:15 on Sunday evening until now we have all had our fair share of lambasting Kanye for his outburst at the VMAs. If you haven’t heard the story, the short of it is that when Taylor Swift was giving her acceptance speech for winning the Best Female Video speech, West rushed the stage, grabbed the mic and openly disagreed with her win by saying Beyonce deserved the award.

Last night, West appeared on Jay Leno and did an impromptu interview where he apologized to Swift, confessed that he felt ashamed, contemplated what his mother would have said to him about his behavior and altogether looked like he had a rough day. Many of his peers ran rough shod on him as they decried his behavior. Pink, Kelly Clarkson, and Katy Perry were all noted as cursing West. Even President Obama, in an off-the-record comment, called West a jacka**. It’s essentially been a war of words as public people and private ones, present company included, shared their opinions on what they thought about West’s behavior.

Proverbs 18:21 says “Life and death are in the power of the tongue.” Everything we say has power, whether we say it to the person’s face or behind their back. It all creates an atmosphere that will either promote growth or death. Right now, Kanye West needs to grow and the only way that he can do that is if we, the general public, his peers in the entertainment business, and even the President of the United States of America, shift our focus from talking about him to praying about him. Nothing can have as much power to affect change in his life than the prayers of people who genuinely care about his well being as a human being. Your talking about how much of a jerk you think he is, how wrong you think he was, and whether his apology was genuine is inconsequential if you have not taken the highest position and lowered yourself to pray for him.

For me, last night was a turning point in this whole debacle. Watching Kanye West on Leno made me feel sad for him. His remorse and sadness were palpable as he sat in the chair across from Leno trying to gather himself and trying to explain to the world the reason for his behavior on Sunday night. I sat there watching a broken man who never takes the time out to deal with his demons. He admitted that his hurt, from not grieving the death of his mother as he should have, caused someone else’s hurt. He has essentially been running through life with a wound that he has been covering up. But now, that the wound is exposed and we know part of why he acts the way he does we must intercede on his behalf in prayer.

Our job now is not to figure out whether he was being honest on the Jay Leno interview or call him anymore names than we already did on Sunday night and all day Monday. No, our job now is to use that same energy we used to be critics and become compassionate. Our job is to forget about how much we dislike him for his outbursts–the one from Sunday and his numerous others– and his ego, and remember him as a child of God stuck between two worlds. We must pray for him. And if we cannot pray, we must do like the old mothers used to tell us, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”  



H1N1 Prayer Vaccine

posted by Mark Herringshaw

My 15 year old son has the flu: fever, aches, cough. He’s frustrated and angry – he was scheduled to play quarterback this Thursday – but he’s too physically sapped to say much.   

He’s not alone. By now we’ve all heard the hype about the H1N1 flu virus. Epidemiologists changed the name from “swine flu” after pig farmers in Iowa objected. Whatever. By any name, it’s a nasty bug that hits healthy young people hardest, harkening back to the dreaded Spanish flu that killed millions in the early 20th century. Some experts fear this pandemic could be as bad. Others say the threat is overblown. Either way, officials have raced to create an effective vaccine which they say will be available in October.

Not soon enough for our house.  H1N1 is here; and it’s real; and it hits hard.

What can we do, beyond aspirin, cold packs, lots of orange juice and calming words of encouragement?

We can pray.

This is a season to pray for health. When all else fails, and all else will, we turn to God who created our bodies and has taught us, through the life and ministry of Jesus to battle against illness and disease with our faith and with prayer.

I’ve now got skin in this game myself. Can I suggest we join the battle together, here and now. The Bible says that agreement in prayer – when we pray together in a group (Matthew 18:19) – is one of the keys to seeing God’s power released to change situations. This situation needs to change! With this forum we have the opportunity for BIG agreement – as in thousands of us praying together about the same problem.

How many out there are battling this flu virus right now, either personally or with someone in your family, or circle of friends? How many of you are anxious, even fearful about it. Let’s talk – with each other and with God – about this challenge. This is the wonder of a technology like this. We may not know each other by name or face, but in an instant we can stand together in masse!

Here’s one prayer for healing the flu…

“God you created our bodies for health. Viruses like H1N1 are distortions of your creation. As you taught us, Jesus, we ‘curse’ this virus in your name. We pray that the immune systems of all those battling this bug will rise up against this invader and defeat it. Give doctors wisdom to aid those who are sick. Give researchers and health officials capacity to produce and distribute the vaccine. We turn to you, God, our healer. We trust you. Heal us.”

Add your own prayer below. And if you are joining this call to prayer against H1N1, comment and let us know. If you know a family battling this sickness, pass along this link and let them know that thousands are praying for them. Let’s build an instant, giant wall of spiritual immunity against this assault! And let’s ask God to step in with the ultimate vaccine – his Mercy!    

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