Prayer, Plain and Simple

Prayer, Plain and Simple

No Fear Here

posted by Mark Herringshaw

There’s a particular taste to fear, somewhere between bitter and fire-hot. Scientists could probably explain this, something about the adrenaline rush that hits the blood stream the moment of terror. Whatever the rational explanation, the fact remains: fear makes us nauseous.


I tasted fear yesterday. It wasn’t fun. My wife Jill and I were walking down a country dirt road near the cabin in Wisconsin where we spent vacation. It was one of those picture postcard scenes of rural America… until reality hit in the form of a German shepherd watchdog.


We had just passed by a pristine farmhouse and turned to head back home when the beast bolted down the driveway and out into the road, barking and pacing like I sentry and blocking our passage.  It’s the closest thing to real terror I’d felt in years.


“God,” my wife prayed, “Send an angel!”


We stood still about 40 yards from the dog, until it started slowly making its way toward us, hairs bristling on his back.


Just then an old man shuffled out onto the road behind the dog. He looked like some character out of Mark Twain’s Roughing It, maybe 80 years old with a white beard down to his chest and long white hair steaming down the middle of his back.


“Angel,” he said, just barely loud enough for us to hear. “Leave them be.” Then he spoke up to us. “She won’t hurt you, I don’t suppose.”

“Angel?” Jill said to me. “Did I hear that right?” We both wanted to either laugh or throw up. 


When “Angel” saw the old man she bolted and quickly covered the rest of the distance between us. We froze, speaking as softly and kindly as we could. “What a nice dog…” [Supposedly dogs love the word "what"]. Angel pulled up beside us growling and sniffing around the ground around us. Then she broke into another round of barking, loud and deep enough to rattle my ribs.


“Angel, you come here,” the man said in a tone so placid I thought he might be sleepwalking. “Come here for your treat,” he added.


I looked and saw a hamburger bun in the man’s hand. He was baiting the dog off us with a piece of bread? “Where’s the beef?” I wanted to object. But amazingly, “Angel” turned and headed for her treat. The old man slapped on a leash and that was that. Then we all had a good laugh, after the fact.


Truth be told, I felt real fear, something ancient and almost primal. No exaggeration. There’s a particular taste to fear. It’s a taste I don’t like.

Jesus doesn’t condemn us for feeling fear. It’s quite natural to feel the flush of that emotion when some beast threatens to devour your. Jesus does tell us how we can master the fear so that it doesn’t master us. He gives us words to use to calm our own soul.

Here’s another except from Fight Like Jesus.


“Be not-afraid!” (Mark 6:50)


“What do you fear?”                


Tomorrow will be dangerous. A car accident. A child’s cancer. A stock market crash. Dementia. Your enemy plots your demise. Surprise! This much is certain: What you don’t know can hurt you! The other shoe will drop. Bad things will happen. So what are you afraid of?


Jesus himself terrified people. Even those who knew him well never knew what to expect. That frightened them. One stormy night, Jesus walked across Lake Galilee. His boat-rowing followers imagined the worst. A demon? A ghost? Their own insanity? “Be not-afraid!” Jesus answered out of the gloom. “It is I.” Then he climbed into their boat and everything returned to normal. What relief!


“Be not-afraid!” was enough. Jesus’ pointed words struck at the heart of their fears. Fear turns the cogs of this world – until Jesus arrives! “Be not-afraid” does more than banish fear; it established faith in the face of danger.


Today you will face intimidation. Things you cannot identify will taunt from the shadows. The enemy will agitate your fight-or-flight instinct until your imagination runs scared. But terror must not bind you. Jesus is here! Borrow his words and intimidate the intimidator. “Be strong and courageous!” “Be not-afraid!”


Answer wild imaginations: “Be not-afraid!” Answer might-be and could-be: “Be not-afraid!” Answer threats of sickness, poverty, and abandonment: “Be not-afraid!” Answer tomorrow: “Be not-afraid!”


Your mission: Sniff out the rank odors of fear. You’ll find it in your own soul, and the soul of every person you meet. Search and find the pungent source. When you do, let fly your borrowed words: “Be not-afraid!” Relief!


Question: “Where is there fear?” Answer: “Be not-afraid!”


You can down load the entire Fight Like Jesus ebook at

Carrying Everything to God in Prayer

posted by nsymmonds

Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!

“What a Friend We Have in Jesus”

By Joseph Scriven

I was reminded of this hymn this morning when one of my Facebook friends posted it as her status update. The verse that I posted above is the part of the song that always resonates deeply within me. It’s so true and yet time and time again we dodge prayer as if there is nothing to be gained from it. I will point the finger at myself so that no one feels as if I casting stones.

I’m not going to be long-winded with this one. I just wanted to drive home the point that in this time where many of us are experiencing uncertainties in every part of our lives, nothing can be more effective than us going to God in prayer. After all, according to scripture, He is way more equipped to handle our burdens than we are:

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Stunt Double for Jesus

posted by Mark Herringshaw

Maybe it’s the stereotype white shoes and plastered hair that rubs me wrong, but I admit, I sometimes have negative reactions to television faith healers. This is hard to admit, because these guys are on my team. Honestly, I believe most of what they say to be absolutely true. I believe Jesus can heal. I believe faith matters in the process. I believe, I believe. I’ve even prayed for people in ways they employ, and while I haven’t seen anyone raised from the dead, I’ve had a few victories that have set me dancing. So what’s my problem?


Culture. I’m convinced my push back is more cultural than substantive. I have never been able to see God through the gaudy, and with age I’m coming to see this as much more about taste and preference than it is about truth. I need a more open mind!


All that to say, I’m a true believer: Jesus created the world; Jesus fixes things in the world that are broken. Including me; and including people and things I touch and address in words on his behalf. I’ve got to push pass the messenger and see and hear the message. ANYONE borrowing Jesus’ words in Jesus’ power can do what he did.


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 free!” (Mark 5:34)


“Where are you hurting?”


Swollen joints. Fever. Back spasms… Pain hurts. Pain is real. Pain is a pain. Pain is a sign something is wrong. Pain is a sign something is broken. Pain is the enemy of God. Pain is your enemy’s most effective idea. Pain is personal. Pain is prison. Yet pain can be cured. Pain will be cured because it already was, once and for all.


A suffering woman crawled to Jesus. She touched him and Jesus felt power transfer. He turned, saw her and said, “Be freed from your suffering!” Instantly, her broken body became whole; her disease fled from his command. She stood freely, and free!


“Be free!” was enough. Jesus’ simple, single edict put all scattered and tattered pieces together again.


Now you must enforce it. Your world hurts. What can you say? In the face of pain, “I’m sorry” or “That’s too bad” or “What a pity” are worse than saying nothing at all. Instead, when you observe pain, say something worth the breath it takes. Announce, “Be free!” One “Be free!” “sets free.”


Answer paralysis: “Be free!” Answer cancer: “Be free!” Answer arthritis, depression, diabetes, alcoholism, broken-heartedness, bi-polar disorder, any disorder: “Be free!” Disease flees at his command. 


Your mission: Fix broken things. Your knapsack holds two words from Jesus: “Be free!” Dare look into the prison camp of human brokenness and suffering and with his words through your voice declare it liberated. 


Question: “Where is there hurt?” Answer: “Be free!”


There are nine such statements of Jesus in Mark’s Gospel. I have written short studies of each similar to this one and packaged them in a free ebook called Fight Like Jesus. Get it at


Dumping the Debt

posted by Mark Herringshaw

“Forgive us our trespasses…”


Newton was half right. To every action there is at least one equal and opposite reaction. I say, at least because usually one reaction grows into two and those into 200! Simple events have a way of compounding into what modern physicists call “chaos” – the mess in my garage for instance!


Consider the accidental impact caused by a chauffer’s one wrong turn in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914. The mishap led to the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria. That led to WWI, which led to the Russian Revolution, Stalin’s purges, WWII and Hitler’s Holocaust, the Cold War and the rise of Radical Islam. All from bad directions.


When a human being willingly defies or even accidentally ignores one of the principles that God has woven into his creation, catastrophic effects always follow. One white lie will ripple out into the world and grow into who knows what dire disaster! 


The ancients called this effect “Sin” and every human who commits even the slightest misstep is ultimately responsible not only for their own folly but for all the uncontrollable effects that grow from it… indeed for the whole mess of the whole world! 


The Bible says that God is just.  He sorts out every dark effect and pairs it with every incidental cause that made it. Because he is able to see every event for what it is and was, he is able to make these right judgments. God holds every human responsible for the damage our choices have wrought in his world. 


I’m thinking through my dire plight at the moment. My fingerprints are all over the crime scene. Any honest look inside will reveal the trouble: I’m fickle, foolish, and foul. And I’ll stand condemned…


Unless… I can appeal and ask for pardon. In this plank of the Lord’s Prayer Jesus invites us to do just that, to go to God and humbly ask that he drop the charges. “Forgive us our trespasses.” 


Here’s a pattern for prayer in this direction. 

- Ask God to reveal to you any sin in your life (Ps. 139:23)

- Ask God to cover this sin under his grace (Rom. 3:25)

- Thank God that he provides forgiveness through Jesus.


We might amplify this with, “God, I know I have trespassed your boundaries. My anger and jealousy have damaged your world even more than I could ever fathom.  I am the responsible one.  But I am bankrupt and could never offer just reparations to you.  I ask for your mercy.  I ask for forgiveness of these debts.”


Jesus indicates that when we ask directly and humbly, God will release our guilt. In fact, this is the essence of Christian faith: that God has transferred the debt we owe onto his own shoulders. 


Ask him now, if you’ve never made that exchange of life for life. He’ll do it. Ask him now.



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