By Claudia Mair Burney
Thursday, the third week of Advent
“There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe in him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.” John 1:6-9
I believe it’s possible to take Jesus’ saying we are the light of the world, and use it to puff ourselves up with pride. But a careful look at John the Baptist’s humility can set us straight. We are not the light. If we’re honest, we can admit that on our own we’re shrouded in inner darkness. At our best we merely reflect the numinous light of Christ. This takes the confusion out of our call to be witnesses. We don’t have to have everything right and know all there is to know about Jesus. All we have to do is testify–tell what we know–about him. This alone is a reason to rejoice.
Light of the world,
I’m so glad that you are the light, and I can only be light by being close enough to you to reflect your radiance. Help me to stay in your presence, so that I can share your light well. If there is any sense of self-importance in me, please take it away. I only want to tell others what I have seen, and what I know of you. You are love. This I know. So make me a lover, of you and others. I rejoice that you’ve given me your light, and I need not wallow in darkness anymore. Bring light to the whole world.
“Come, Lord Jesus.”
Today I’m praying by borrowing some of the ancient words of the Bible. Psalm 23 is a good place to start…
“The Lord is my shepherd, I will lack nothing…”
These words have been said to and of God many millions of times, over thousands of years. God loves hearing and responding to this beautiful statement of faith. Try it!
Using the Bible as a precedent is a great place to build prayer patterns. When we don’t know what to say, we can say what’s been said before. We can speak God’s word back to himself.
Worthy aside: My wife Jill is good at this. She’s recorded a CD that helps people – especially children – pray the Bible. Check it out.
The scriptures are our basis for living, and what was true thousands of years ago remains true and relevant today. When you echo ancient words you connect with the wider human experience and with our never-changing God.
Try it. Pick a passage like Psalm 23 or Romans 8 and read it slowly. Your words make it a prayer – a familiar prayer – to God.
Check out the other “21 Ways to Pray” in a special Beliefnet devotional I’ve written. And as always, feel free to add in your own perspectives.
By Claudia Mair Burney
Wednesday, the third week of Advent
“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, who brings good news, who announces salvation, who says to Zion, your God reigns.” Isaiah 52:7 NRSV
I wonder how many people reading this scripture realizes that the image used in this verse is of a messenger who ran–not walked–from Babylon to Jerusalem, covering a distance of about six hundred miles. That’s a long run! But he knew his message was urgent. I’m sure his feet hurt, blistered, and generally looked rough after only a few miles on all that hot sand. Yet his feet were beautiful because he bore the long awaited news: the God of Israel, Yahweh, was King over all other gods. And the exiles could return home. We too, have been given good news, but it came much further than six hundred miles. God stepped from eternity into time, an incomprehensible distance, to be with us; to save us; to bring us home. He reigns in our hearts, and will soon rule over all the world. This is welcome news for those who have languished here, so far away from our soul’s home. It’s good news to the “Nth” power.
God who goes the distance,
There is no greater news than that which is found in the gospels, which tell us the story of how Jesus came to save us from our sins. We are to sing for joy, as the Israelites did, for in plain sight the Lord returned to Zion. Even as I lay in ruins because of my own choices, you come in plain sight, making it hard for me to miss you. I rejoice, because your presence brings comfort to your people. You have redeemed me, and all of those who are your very own. Come my happiness and strength.
“Come, Lord Jesus.”
Evangelist Oral Roberts, died of complications from pneumonia today. Roberts conducted more than 300 healing crusades in over 35 countries on six continents and it is estimated that he has personally laid hands on more than two million people for healing prayer. As we acknowledge the passing of this faithful servant of God, let us offer prayer for the man who prayed for millions. Please join us in prayer for his family, friends, and every person who has ever been touched by his life and ministry.
We thank you for the life and work of Granville Oral Roberts. Though we mourn his passing and the fact that he is absent in the body, we celebrate the fact that he is now present with you. We thank you for every life that he has touched through his ministry. We thank you for the institution, Oral Roberts University, that he founded and that has served as a hub for training some of the worlds most influential Christian leaders and thinkers. We thank you for giving him a rich life and we pray that his family and friends will remember that life. Be a comforter for those who are inconsolable. Be an encourager for those who are feeling discouraged. Be whatever and whoever you need to be for those who have been and will be impacted by this loss. Let every heart pray.
In Jesus’ Name,
Add your prayer…