Prayer, Plain and Simple

Prayer, Plain and Simple

The Eucharist Diet: Results with an *

posted by Mark Herringshaw

January 5, 2010

Day 4

Weight: 206*

Weight lost: 4 pounds* 

For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes (I Corinthians 11:23-26)


I’m four days into the process and when I weighed in this morning I found a surprising result: I’ve lost 4 pounds since Saturday. But… there’s a caveat and an * on the record book: I used a different scale this morning, so the account is highly suspect. Using different standards for any single process just doesn’t work… We could wax philosophical here, but I’m sure you get the point. I’m going to have to decide – which scale will be my benchmark and move from there. I’ll “weigh” my options and report back tomorrow…

For review: I’m trying an experiment… Living on bread and water, turned to wine… It seems we can’t live on food alone, as Jesus said, but on the Words that come from God… Okay, I’m having Bible with my breakfast! 


And just before I went to sleep last night Jill and I shared communion together. Every day for the next six months I’m going to attempt to eat “bread and wine” – the Lord’s Supper – and document what affect this has on my relationship with food and ultimately on my weight. I need to find some workable solution to my dysfunctional relationship with food. I’ve tried diets. Now I’m resorting to prayer and the miracle of the real presence of Jesus in the wine and break of the Eucharist. Bottom line, I need Jesus to invade the very cells of my body, mind, and spirit. He comes, I believe as I metabolize these ordinary pieces of this planet. It’s a mystery, I know. I can’t explain how, but I believe it and I believe it’s a real thing, with real power. We’ll see what happens…


Today’s projections: It’s Tuesday morning and I’ve already had a bowl of granola for breakfast – nothing dangerous there. I’ve had a cup of coffee with cream and sugar at Caribou Coffee, and I’ve packed a reasonable lunch and I’ll have dinner early this evening before going back to the office for meeting tonight. If I stay away from leftover fudge and cookies stashed around, I should be okay.

“God, fill the cravings, not with empty carbs but with something richer, something that will truly ‘stick to my ribs’ and sustain me through this day. In Jesus…”


A Prayer for the First Workday of the New Year

posted by nsymmonds

After being on vacation for two weeks today is my first day back in the office. While I was on vacation I imagined how I might dread coming back to cold New York and my office instead of being in relatively warm Florida doing alot of nothing. But this morning, I woke up with a resolve in my spirit that today had to be different than previous days at work in 2009 and previous years. It’s Monday, the first day in the work week for many, and the first Monday in 2010. For me, it means that today has to be different because I have this obvious opportunity to do things differently and start with a clean slate. Before I left my house this morning, I updated my status on Facebook to the following,

“Nicole Symmonds prays that everyone returning to work/school for the first time in 2010 would leave behind attitudes and dispositions they brought with them to work/school in 2009. It’s a new year and if you want something different, you not only have to do things differently, but be different. Remember, the purpose of work in our lives is to show God at work in our lives.”


And so, I want to share the same prayer with everyone out there who has returned back to their desks. The sacred desks and the secular, the school and the corporation, the cubicle and the corner office. Today we have a perfect opportunity to make a lasting change in our work and school lives. What we do today can put us on track to set good habits for the work/school year ahead of us. So join me in prayer for this, the first day of the work/school week in 2010, and please add your prayer.


Heavenly Father,

I thank you first and foremost for bringing me into this new year. You didn’t have to do it, but you did and I want to honor your commitment to me by being comitted to you in all I do. A great part of that commitment is honoring you in the work that I do. I spend the majority of my waking hours behind a desk and I don’t want to take for granted that the only reason I am behind this desk is because you woke me up this morning, brought me here safely and blessed me with this job. Please help me to honor you on this day and everyday going forward with the work that I do. In everything I do at work from this day forward, let me honor you. Help me to do my work without complaining, murmurring or arguing. May I not carry the grievances, attitudes and dispostions of last year into this year. And may I free myself of expectations and instead surrender myself to your will. May we all submit ourselves to your will for us in our lives at work and in school.

In Jesus’ Name,



A Prayer from The Tallest Building in the World

posted by Mark Herringshaw

Burj Dubai, the world’s tallest building, is set to open today in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Although the exact height of the Burj Dubai (Arabic for Dubai Tower) is a closely guarded secret, at more than 2,625 feet, it far surpasses its nearest rival, the Taipei 101 in Taiwan.  

We humans are always pushing upward, aren’t we. Whether climbing mountains, or shooting rockets to the moon, or piling up money or stock certificates, or building skyscrapers we’re unflinchingly motivated toward the skies. We always have been.


I think this as emblematic of our spiritual quest. We want to reach up to God. We long to be with him, to be close to him, and like him. And so we head toward the heavens…

The irony: Going “up” never allows us to touch God. The story in the Bible of the Tower of Babel depicts the universal human bent to “build a tower to the sky.”  But God himself was not amused at our efforts. He frustrated this ambition by confusing the interpersonal communication processes we use to become independent of his guidance.

No, instead of going up to find God, God himself has come down to find us. Our search upward is bound to frustration and folly. Every religion in the world seems bent on this quest – to help humans become spiritual and grow loose of the bounds of earthly flesh. But the surprising right course is instead to “go low.” Only when we walk in humility and allow God to come to our lives, where we are, can we hope to reach him. Then can lifts us up! Christmas was about this principle – God comes down to us, to bring us up to himself.


Towers all eventually fall. And this one will as well, eventually. In fact the signs of collapse are already appearing – Dubai, it turns out, is nearly bankrupt as a nation. So they have the tallest building… Now what?

“God, our instinct is to reach up to you. The irony is that the only way we can touch you is to allow you to come down to us, to relinquish our independent ambitions and permit you to find us, where and how we are. Only then can we climb high up into the amazing destiny you have for us! In Jesus…”


The Eucharist Diet: “Get Ye Behind Me!”

posted by Mark Herringshaw

January 4, 2010

Day 3

Last night was a mega-challenge for my new diet adventure, and a perfect test for my theory. Jill, my wife invited about 20 of my friends over to celebrate my 50th birthday. By January 2nd everyone is usually partied out and ready to move on with normal life – including the diets we’ve sworn to begin with the New Year – but last night blew all those intentions to kingdom come!


The challenge: I was encircled by a epic feast lovingly prepared by my incredibly gracious and talented wife. Four different cakes – one made by my friend Miles was a chocolate dandy doused in caramel and brandy and trough of whipped cream – a blazing broiled brie cheese, wonderful toasted breads, fruit, an avocado dip with fruit salsa, and pot of meatballs descended from the heavens… and far more! Self control got booted out the back door into Minnesota’s bitter -20 degree temperatures. As Jesus put it, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Indeed.

Some recent research explains why we often fail to stick with our diets in the presence of temptation. Will power, it turns out is biologically, un-unnervingly anemic. In one study, hungry people were put in a room with a plate of chocolate chip cookies and a plate of radishes. Half were told to eat only radishes. The others were allowed to eat either. Then all were given a series of problem solving responsibilities that required significant concentration. Those who could eat only radishes were significantly less effective on this test. Translation: the energy the disciplined group expended resisting exhausted them mentally and emotionally. Saying “no” is taxing. Several other studies have demonstrated the same phenomena. Will power requires a lot of energy and in the end there is always one more temptation than there is strength to resist it. When the cake is there in front of me, it’s next to impossible to say, “no” over the long haul.  


So… What to do with the leftovers from last night? My “Eucharist Diet” strategy has to take this reality into account. According to the research, I need to either remove myself from the temptation and head to my office, or remove the temptations from me and dump the rest of Mile’s cake in the trash. The latter won’t happen: We don’t waste food around here. Perhaps I’ll just have to get out of the house a bit more this week.  

But I can also do more than just say “no!” God knows I didn’t say much of that last night! Instead, I can say “yes” to another kind of food. I can “nibble” on the truths of God and tangibly focus on Jesus’ presence, on “eating” his life and letting him do the work I can’t.  In the end really have no willpower aside from the “self control” God through his Spirit gives me, so any other diet device is bound to fail.


Thus, the premise of this diet adventure: I did not (last night) and will not (from here forward) worry so much about saying “no” to food. Instead I’m going to include Jesus in my meals, asking for his blessing, asking him to “fill me up” with his own goodness and I’ll do this by taking communion every day. I’m banking that if I eat the body and blood of Christ, HE will be enough for me.

That’s the theory at least… Tomorrow I’ll tell you how today fares… Right now, it’s time for breakfast… Oatmeal…

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