Prayer, Plain and Simple

Prayer, Plain and Simple

A Prayer for the George Sodini’s Victims and Family

posted by nsymmonds

Yesterday, George Sodini entered a Pittsburgh L.A. Fitness gym aerobic’s class, turned off the lights and opened fire. The 50 rounds of bullets killed three women and injured 10 other people. Sodini then turned the gun on himself and killed himself. Sources say that Sodini left behind a diary that documented his plans for yesterday’s event and detailed his desire for female companionship, his loneliness, and his discouragement with women.

It’s heartbreaking that one man’s inability to find love, led him to take lives instead. I beseech anyone who reads this to not only pray for the family of the victims and Sodini’s family, but pray for those people who you know–and even those you don’t–who are living alone and feeling lonely. Please join me in prayer and add your own.

Heavenly Father,

I am praying for the family and friends of the victims of last night’s L.A. Fitness Club shooting. These victims were innocent bystanders whose lives were taken too soon and I pray that your comfort would be with each family member, each friend, and the L.A. Fitness Club staff and members who had an opportunity to interact with these people. Healing will take time as they are confronting with the days to come without their loved ones. Help them to seek solace and understanding from you. For George Sodini’s family and friends, I pray Lord that you would comfort them and that you would allow them to have an opportunity to understand what was going on with him during the last days of his life. Protect his family and friends from the people who may try to lash out at them and seek vengeance upon them for what he did to their loved ones. I know that at this time it is hard for anyone to imagine interceding in prayer of behalf of a killer’s family, but Lord, help people to recognize that this is a moment for compassion to be extended to his family and friends. There are needs that I haven’t even addressed in this prayer, but you are a God who addresses the concerns of your people’s hearts. You know their concerns before they are even voiced, so Lord, attend to your children. Let each one of us turn our hearts toward prayer and when we run out of words to say, intercede for us.

In Jesus’ Name,


To Pray or Not to Pray, Part 2

posted by nsymmonds

So I’ve gotten quite a bit of response–both on this blog and off–from “To Pray or Not to Pray“. I’ve heard from alot of you that you think it is ok to continually pray about a situation, in my case, praying about a mate. I’ve certainly taken your words of wisdom in stride. My mom actually responded to this post on Facebook and she said the following,

“If what you are praying for is dear to your heart, then you should pray until you get an answer.” –Mom

I agree with her regarding my prayer being about something that is dear to my heart and praying until I get an answer. Why not? If I know how to be persistent in other areas of my life, then, why not be persistent in my prayers? I’d be no different from Jacob, who, while wrestling with God told him explicitly, “I will not let go unless you bless me.” So why not pray until he answer me? 

But of the comments that I received, the ones that resonated most deeply with me were the ones that helped me to remember that my prayers to God are to be regarded just as I would regard a conversation with a friend–of course with more reverence. The point that the first two commenters Juana and Tanya made, is that we talk to our friends continuously about what concerns us. We may talk to them until there is a resolution–and even if there is no resolution in sight. But we keep talking about our concerns with our friends because we know that they are listening to us, but most of all, talking out our concerns with out friends releases the frustration and stress and allows us to walk away with some semblance of peace. It’s not different with God save for the fact that God will never grow tired of hearing about our problems. That was such a wonderful reminder and I wanted to share the boldface points I received from Juana and Tanya with you:

The thing that I am learning about prayers is that as I pray or talk to God, God helps me work through my frustrations and doubt to provide some level of peace about the situation. It is through prayer that sometimes the answers come. And even in those times when they don’t, at least I’ve gotten the weight off of my chest. Besides, when my friends are tired of listening to me moan and groan, I know that God isn’t. –Juana

Prayer, just like any conversation we have with friends about a pressing matter, is a way to obtain advice or peace, and it ultimately empowers us to whistle while we wait. Sometimes we need several conversations to get there. Lord knows I need to whistle a WHOLE LOT about some things, so we talk often. –Tanya

So here I am on the other side of this “To Pray or Not to Pray” debate and I’ve walked away with my answer, that I am going to keep praying. I’m going to keep praying because God is my friend, a friend who sticks closer than a brother and the peace he offers me passes all understanding. He is going to able to comfort me in my season of singleness and he is going to be able to mold me into what He wants me to be to be a suitable mate for someone else. But most of all I will keep praying because, in the midst of my protracted singleness, I’m actually rather whole and the love I’m searching for is right in front of my face, waiting for me to come and talk to Him.

Thanks to everyone who shared their advice and were very transparent on this matter. I know it’s a sensitive one for the Christian woman, but by and by, if we trust in God and keep seeking His face, He will see us through.

God uses “heart recognition software”

posted by Mark Herringshaw

New experience: I am writing this post using the voice recognition software in my computer. I’ve never used this feature before and it is a weird experience.  When I first began to write from a keyboard it took time for me to begin to think through my fingers. Thinking out loud is a completely different process.  To think as I speak forces me to be very intentional about what I say.  I have a hunch that this discipline may be a very good exercise in learning to consider my words carefully.  For every mumble and stammer does carry a consequence.

My challenge is that I’m relating with a machine and not a person. The computer registers every sound I make and interprets it through its own preprogrammed assumptions.  And what the computer hears very often is not what I said, or at least intended to say.  This last sentence, before I corrected it read, “And wait the computer ears furry often is not wait I sad…”   

Prayer to God is not so mercilessly exacting. God is no computer.  He is a person I can dialog with intimately. No artificial intelligence can register my nonverbal cues, my moods and body language and all the subtle nuances that betray the secret ministries of my soul.  God knows all these things. As Jesus promised, God knows what I need even before I ask. He invites me to speak in prayer because it makes conversation. But he doesn’t need my words in order to register my heart. He knows me better than I know myself.

Once I finish rambling out this experiment I will have to go back and correct words and in some cases whole sentences so that you the reader can made some sense of my stream of consciousness.  Or perhaps for greater impact I should just leave it as it is! That would make the point, and frustrate you in the process!

Praise be! God is far more than a voice recognition system. God hears and responds and coaxes from me much more than what I say; he works with me until I say what I truly mean. I believe that prayer is the place where we all learn to truly talk. After all, we’re just infants in the eternal scope of time. We’re honing a skill we’ll be using for all eternity.  As we muddle through our efforts, God listens, reads between the lines and then perfectly esponds, sometimes with nothing more and nothing than less than a nonverbal, but perfectly timed, smile.

God Talks Too iii

posted by Mark Herringshaw

In Nine Ways God Always Speaks, my co-writer, Jennifer Schuchmann and I relay this fascinating story about hearing God shared with us by our friend, writer, Cecil Murphey.  

My brother was maybe five feet two and weighed around one hundred pounds. He was a career man in the Navy, and he worked below deck. One night my mother had a dream that his ship had hit something, and when my brother went into the compartment to try and shut it off, he got trapped. This all happened in my mother’s dream. She was agitated but there was nothing she could do. There was no way for her to communicate with her son, and besides, who would believe her anyway?

A few weeks later, she was at a prayer meeting at our church in Davenport, Iowa. It was a mostly fundamental church, not the kind that believed in visions from God. But while she was there she was gripped by a panic that what she dreamed was happening right then. She interrupted the meeting and said, “My son is drowning. You have to pray for him right now!”

The whole group stopped what they were doing and prayed for ten or fifteen minutes. A sense of peace came over my mother, and she told them they could stop. It was over.

About two weeks later, we got a letter at the house. It was from my brother, and he told us that he had almost drowned. The ship went aground, and one compartment started to take on water. My brother and several others went to close it off. In the confusion, the others left the compartment locking my brother in.

He said that the water kept rising until it was above his neck and almost at his mouth when one of the guys said, “Where’s Murph?” They figured out he was in the compartment, and they returned to rescue him.

Though the dream and the events surrounding it took place nearly a half-century ago, Cec Murphey still remembers the details. His mother was known for having dreams that predicted terrible events–events of which she couldn’t have had prior knowledge.

Cec recalls a second dream where his mother learned about a divorce in the family (at a time when divorce was very rare) before the couple announced it. In still another dream, she was warned that his brother was dying of lung cancer before his brother had been diagnosed. Cec believes his mother heard from God.

Is it possible for God to speak through dreams?

Cec believes that God also speaks to him–just not through his dreams.

Off the top of his head, Cec can quickly tell nearly a dozen stories of when God has spoken, helping him to perceive future events, make decisions, or gain insight into situations that he wouldn’t have except through divine knowledge.

He describes hearing God’s voice inside of himself like an anointed intuition. “I feel a sense of conviction so powerful that I would die before I’d turn away from it. Say what you want, I can tell you I’ve been a Christian for fifty years, and I’ve never been wrong any time I had one of these strong convictions. If I had to give up the conviction or die, I’m ready to die for it; it’s that clear to me.”

Does God speak that clearly to you?

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