Prayer, Plain and Simple

Prayer, Plain and Simple

Prayer for Hurricane Bill and Hurricane Season

posted by nsymmonds

Hurricane Bill is not projected to do any real damage in the United States, but I still feel compelled to send up my prayers to those who may be in the midst of the storms that may ensue because of Bill and of course all of those who are living in parts of the country that are subject to the effects of hurricanes and tropical storms. Please join me in prayer and add your own:

Heavenly Father,

As creator of the heavens and the earth I pray that your hand of protection be upon all of those who may be in the midst of tropical storms and hurricanes. Grant them knowledge, wisdom, and understanding so that they may take the necessary precautions to protect the homes you have given them. Give the metereologists and the weather men and women wisdom, knowledge and discernment so that they will disseminate the correct information regarding the position and severity of hurricanes and tropical storms. Let everyone who lives in states most heavily impacted by this seasonal phenomena be calm and always put their trust in you for provision and safety. May no damage be caused that is beyond repair. May no one be anxious for anything, but in everything, let their requests be made known unto you and may the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard their hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. All these things I pray, in Jesus’ name.


Winning the War of Words

posted by Mark Herringshaw

Today I’m walking uphill against the wind. I’m exhausted physically, my mind is skipping circuits, and I have the motivation of the banana slugs I used to collect as a child in the mountains above Santa Cruz. If I look beyond tomorrow, I can’t see imagine how certain perplexities will get solved. I don’t have a reserve of any natural hope today. It’s a fight, I admit it. In biorhythm terms, I’m in a trough in deep need of real rest. I’m weary. But I must keep fighting.


I live in a “do or die” world. A ruthless enemy plots my downfall crouched in ambush, waiting for a weak moment when I led down my guard. Don’t scoff: You live on the same planet and under the same conditions. Living here for any of us is never easy. Where did we ever get the idea that it could be? We must fight for peace, and peace of mind, family, provision, sanity, purity, and our very lives. Fighting is not optional. Sure, I wish the whistle would blow, and the round would end, but this never-ending-wrestling-match-struggle goes on without a pause. Fighting isn’t optional, neither is winning. The question is not “if” we fight, but “how?”


As a follower of Jesus Christ I’ve committed to living to honor him. Jesus fought his way through life. That’s comforting. He endured the same struggles I face, and he prevailed. That’s hopeful. So, how did Jesus fight and win? That would be good insight on day I’m walking up hill against the wind.


The popular image of Jesus paints him as a meek and mild saint. Yet beneath what appears a passive veneer we find an aggressive, militant, warrior engaging invisible spiritual forces of evil. Jesus never fought against humans, even those who came against him. He understood the nature of his enemy and he understood the weapons he needed to conquer them – words.


The primary conflict in the universe is a war of words. Jesus understood this and he engaged and defeated his foes first and last by what he said.  He enlists us to do the same, to borrow his words and join the fray as we pray and persevere when we’re spent and weary and longing for rest.


I have fleshed out these ideas in a short ebook called, Fight Like Jesus. It’s available for free download at


Muttering to God

posted by Mark Herringshaw

Every day in great Cathedrals, in automobiles, restaurants and school libraries millions upon millions of people around the world recite “The Lord’s Prayer.”  I said it myself this morning. It is perhaps the simplest, most direct, most encompassing prayer ever cast in human language. 


But while the simple words themselves provide a wonderful form for the function of prayer, the ideas behind the words can open a wider world for communication with God.  “The Lord’s Prayer” is more than a rote intercession.  It is also a template for prayer.  More than a score for an intricate symphony, it is also a chord chart for a jazz improvisation, setting the tempo, key, and basic progression for a free-flow of expression.  For anyone, asking, “teach me to pray” this simple pattern provides a beginning. 


Jesus was a rabbi. Rabbis of Israel in his day had (and still have today) a particular way of teaching their “talmidim” (students) to pray.  Their method is called “haggah,” a Hebrew word usually translated in English “meditate.” 


When most people think of meditation they envision a sophist or guru sitting passively in an incense-filled room.  But “Haggah” meditation is more than silent contemplation.  The word literally means to mutter, or to speak aloud quietly.  When a rabbi would teach his students to pray “haggah” he would begin by reciting aloud a short portion of holy text, a Psalm or a prophecy or a portion of the Torah, the Law. 


Following the scripture patterns the students would corporately but personally “mutter” to God his own thoughts and feelings about this text, amplifying the meaning with specific details relevant to his own life and the immediate situations in the world around him.  This would continue for a few moments.  Then just as the wave of “haggah” would begin to subside the rabbi would quote aloud the next portion of scripture.  Again the student would expound the scripture back to God. 


This seems to be how Reb Yeshua bar Yosef taught his followers to pray using the phrases of what we now call the Lord’s Prayer. He may well have started: “Our Father, you who make your dwelling in the heavens, your name is holy…”  The disciples would then “haggah” by praying personal details in their own words… “You are my Father, my provider and the one who grants my identity. You are making your home in Heaven a place to welcome me…” And more…  


We can each do the same here and now.


Take up the “Lord’s Prayer,” and say the words quietly under your breath.


“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver from the evil one” (Matthew 6:9-13).


Pause at each line and amplify how that phrase fits your needs today…

When Jesus Didn’t Pray

posted by Mark Herringshaw

Jesus prayed, but not always…


Jesus stayed constantly connected with God, his Father. This proved the source of his life and power. But Jesus didn’t always pray when facing challenges. Sometimes he just spoke words directly, and let the words themselves do the work.  


When Jesus faced sick people he didn’t pray for their sickness. I looked through all the accounts in the Gospels and I couldn’t find one instance where Jesus prayed for the sick. Instead, he took authority God had given him, authority over pieces of broken creation, and he spoke at the problem. And that fixed it.  


I was startled when I first discovered this pattern. I read and re-read the Gospels, particularly Mark’s account and I came away amazed at the number of times Jesus used words as tools of authority instead of direct prayer. He prayed, a lot, in secret and away from the microphones, late at night and out of sight. Prayer bolstered his power supply. But when he engaged a problem he tapped that power and used words AT the issue.


A while back I tackled this subject in a personal study. I went through Mark’s Gospel and found a series of nine commands of authority that Jesus uttered in different situations he faced. He said these words to change things, and remarkably, things changed. It struck me that I face similar challenges every day. You probably do as well. Sometimes my impulse is to struggle to fix it myself. Sometimes I simply resort to praying. But Jesus showed me another way, a kind of “prayer of faith,” or “authority declaration” that I could employ as he did. Actually, it’s not my authority or right that does anything. But I can borrow Jesus’ words in his stead and face the challenge down.


Out of my personal study and the trial and error of borrowing Jesus’ word as I faced daily challenges I wrote a report outlining what I discovered. Over the next few days I’ll post portions of this on the blog. You can also download it free it in its entirely on my website. I call it, Fight Like Jesus. Get a copy and pass it around.



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