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Prayer, Plain and Simple

Prayer, Plain and Simple

Prayer for Relationship Reconciliation

posted by Mark Herringshaw

 

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How about this for a story of reconciliation: After working side by side for the same moving company, two men, Gary Nisbet and Randy Joubert finally discovered that they were not only long-lost brothers, but actually identical twins separated at birth and adopted into different families.  Truth can be more surprising than fiction!

For weeks people had joked with them about how much they looked alike as they rode in the same delivery truck together in Waldoboro, Maine.  Finally, something clicked with Randy. He pulled Gary aside and said, “This is going to sound bizarre, but were you adopted?” Gary, looked puzzled, then confirmed that he was in fact adopted.  They compared notes and found out that they shared the same birthday and – amazingly – the same birth parents.  They could only stared each other and disbelief. 

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This story makes a shake our heads in wonder.  What a small and amazing world! Yet there is something painful here as well.  How many of us have some estranged relationships with a personal we DO know, someone who really should be close to us but is not.  Some happenstance event, some careless word or impulsive decision drove a wedge between us that has grown into a chasm and has kept us apart.  For Gary and Randy it was someone else’s choice that made the separation. For us it might have been our own choice.  That means we can, by another choice do something about it, take a step heal them that.

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Prayer can play a key role in relationship reconciliation.  In fact, relationship reconciliation absolutely plays a key role in prayer.  Jesus says in Matthew 6 that forgiveness and relationship rift is a precondition to God hearing in answering prayer.  Likewise, when we’re willing, prayer and God’s help can pave the way for restoration in relationship. 

Do a quick audit on your own relationships.  Is there a rift separating you from someone significant?  What are you losing by losing this person’s involvement in your life?  Offer prayer now asking God to begin a healing here.  Ask God to bless this person, and to give you courage, strength, and wisdom to cultivate reconciliation.  Ask God for the opportunity to do what you can, and faith to trust him to do the rest, and perhaps bring about a surprising – though maybe not quite as dramatic – reunion.

 

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“Just Enough, Just in Time” Prayer for Provision

posted by Mark Herringshaw

You may know, and even frequently say the words in Jesus’ Lord’s Prayer, “Give us today our daily bread.” Here Jesus invites us to ask God, our Father to meet our immediate need for provision.  Jesus is referring to an Old Testament story.  When the Hebrews (Jews) were rescued from Egypt God provided miraculous food for them every day of their journey.  He gave them enough, but not more than enough.  If they tried to collect and save more for tomorrow, the food would go rancid.  God was teaching them to trust him for every day.  Jesus challenges us to pray and trust God and the same way.  He tells us that we should not worry about tomorrow and instead focus our faith on the moment.

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This challenge is just as relevant for us as it was for those hearings Jesus speak in person.  It’s tempting when we’re facing a challenge like unemployment to think of the big picture and stress about not only today, but tomorrow, next month and next year.  Jesus promises that today’s need will be met.  And when tomorrow becomes another today, that day too will be supplied as well.

“Father God, you promise to meet today’s obligations.  Okay, we’ll hold you to that! We pray that you would fulfill your word in this situation.  Provide food, finances, shelter, support and whatever else today demands.  Give us faith to look here and now in to resist trying to solve tomorrow’s problems ourselves. We know you may (probably will) work in a surprising and creative way, and it may not be what we expect.  Give us the eye is to see your surprising solutions.  Again, we trust you to keep your promises.  Give us today what we need today; we’ll  trust that tomorrow will bring another miracle.”

How has God met your need for provision today?  Tell your story!  What do you need today?  Share your request and we will join you in prayer, believing that God will answer!

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Prayer for Provision

posted by Mark Herringshaw

Yesterday I ran into a friend who’s been unemployed for nine months.  I smiled, politely and asked how he was doing.  He looked at me as if to say, “Stupid question!”  I suddenly felt as if I’d slapped a cancer patient on the back with, “Hey, what a great day!” Cancer is a good analogy.  Talking with someone who is out of a job brings out the same bumbling ineptitude as talking with someone who is terminally ill.  We really don’t know what to say, and anything we do say is probably wrong.

With nearly 10% of Americans idled, and out of work, there are probably a lot of awkward conversation moments out there.  These are rough days, and many families are struggling.  Even those of us with steady jobs have found our buying power greatly diminished.  Someone I know hasn’t had a wage adjustment since 2001, meaning that her real income has actually declined around 50%.  Time Magazine last week ran a cover story on unemployment and underemployment in America.  They predict that even as the current recession eases, chronic job loss will continue for months and even years.  This is something we’re going to have to get used to.

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So, it’s not a stretch to say that every person on this forum is somehow affected by the current economic malaise, either directly or through someone close.  What do we say when there’s no way to help, when our words seem like either foolish denial or uninvited advice? 

One answer: we can pray, we can say words to God.

God does care about our provision. “The God who provides” is actually one of the Old Testament names for God.  Giving is his nature.  He has created us, and promises to supply all of our needs.  In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount he promises that God, our Father knows our practical need for food and shelter and security even before we ask. And when we do he willingly answers.  God is close to us at our point of most pressing need. (Matthew 6:25f). We never have to worry!

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This week we will be talking about provision-prayer.  It’s a real and tangible concern for almost all of us. So let’s put these promises to work even if we can’t put our hands to work!

“Our Father in heaven, you created everything and you provide the needs everything you own.  We are your children.  You tell us that when we have a need we should ask and keep on asking, and when we do we will receive our answer. (Matthew 7:7).  Today we ask that you would meet the financial needs of those struggling to meet their obligations.  This is not too much or too little to bring to you.  We depend on your promises and we depend on you!  Thank you head of time for meeting all of our needs, today.”

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How Prayer Works: God’s Guarded Trade Secret

posted by Mark Herringshaw

In a response to yesterday’s post, “Praying with our head’s screwed on,” “Kris” offered this comment: “If prayer is for our benefit why must we be so specific? Is it the time we spend on prayer itself and research in order to be more specific. Or is it the specific detail we give to God concerning our needs that seem to make a difference. Just curious…”

What are your thoughts? For what it’s worth, here are a few of mine…

… I don’t know. And I’m not sure God wants us to know. He seems very protective of his secret recipes for how the world works. Even scientists eventually come to the end of the line of knowledge, the further into space they look, and the further down into the atom they peer. Knowing “how” prayer works is also something God appears to be very reluctant to reveal to us. Prayer moves God’s hand, but “how?” just doesn’t come clear. I can flip a light switch, but I don’t know “how” electricity really works – no one really does.

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In fact, I don’t think there is a single right way to pray, a formula to follow. Perhaps that’s because the object here is God, not God’s ways. Prayer is about relationship with God, not about pushing a particular button in some cosmic computer bank.

Details seem to matter in prayer… That’s about all we know. If the Bible is precedent for our lives – I believe it is – then we look at the first patterns for healing prayer laid out for us by Jesus as patterns to follow. Jesus seemed to address issues specifically and individually. He didn’t just wave his hand – he could have I suppose – and cure every sickness once and for all. Instead, he engaged with people personally and asked questions of them. He even asked one blind man, “What do you want me to do for you?” not even assuming the guy wanted to be healed.

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It seems to me that everything in life – including our need for healing through prayer – is a set up for furthering our relationship with God. God is not a recipe or formula or a control panel with buttons. God is a THE PERSON behind all personhood. When we pray specifically, with knowledge and intelligence, it give us greater opportunity to engage with God as a partner, a son or daughter in his great realm. Knowledge in our discussion with God gives him the opportunity to bring us closer to the ultimate role he has planned for us: ruling and reigned with him in this amazing corner of his creation.

Jennifer Schuchmann and I begin our book, Six Prayers God Always Answers, with some lines that, I believe also relate to this discussion:

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Prayer doesn’t work.

God works.

We often get that confused, don’t we?

We think there is a certain formula we have to follow–a right way of doing prayer. If we do it right, God answers. It’s like using the correct postage after a rate change, the proper stamp ensures delivery. But when our prayers don’t get answered, we believe we’re somehow at fault. We prayed the “wrong” way. There are lots of ways we could have screwed up–not enough postage (or good deeds), mislabeled the envelope (prayed to God when we should have prayed to Jesus) or forgot to seal it (with a promise to do better next time).

Those are my first reaction thoughts to Kris’ provocative question…  What are yours?

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