Pastoral Series

Prayer: Courage

Prayer: Courage    In our culture of complaint, fear, rancor, diversions, pleasure, triviality and self-centeredness, we could use a little (or actually quite a bit of) courage.  Dorothy’s friend the Lion travelled the Yellow Brick Road to seek courage from the Wizard of Oz.  We not only seek courage from God; prayer, when practiced often…

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Prayer: wandering mind

Prayer: wandering mind They didn’t diagnose attention deficit disorder when I was a child, but I am sure I’ve got curious form of an embarrassingly short attention span.  I read four or five books at a time, unable to stay focused on one.  I work two minutes on this, and then my mind flits over…

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Prayer: the four moods of prayer

Prayer: the four moods of prayer    The vast majority of the time, when we use the verb “pray,” we follow it immediately with the preposition “for.”  Will you pray for my mother?  I prayed for healing.  Let us pray for the poor. What if you tried for a day, or a week, to pray,…

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Prayer: Does prayer work?

Prayer: Does prayer work?    People ask if prayer “works,” or complain if it doesn’t.  Some people think my prayers, since I’m a pastor, are more likely to “work” than regular folks’ prayers.  But would we hang a percentage on prayer successes? We speak of “answered prayer,” and Garth Brooks thanked God for “unanswered prayer”…

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Prayer: In the middle of the night

Prayer: In the Middle of the Night    Psalm 63, which we explored on Monday, takes a surprising, intriguing turn in verse 6.  “My soul is feasted… my mouth praises” – but when?  “When I think of thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the watches of the night.”  The word “insomnia” makes…

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Prayer: Seeking, not Possessing

Prayer: Seeking, not Possessing Got Jesus? is a question, almost a dare, I’ve seen posed by posters and sweatshirts.  I want to respond, I hope he’s got me.  But a better answer might be Not yet.  Psalm 63 epitomizes what the spiritual life is all about:  I seek thee, my soul thirsts for thee, my…

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Prayer: Holiness

Prayer: Holiness    Praying in the temple one day, Isaiah “saw the Lord sitting upon a throne” – and also angelic creatures flying and singing “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isaiah 6:1-3). Our greatest confusion about prayer is that we think it’s all about…

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Prayer: Teach us to Pray

Prayer: Teach us to Pray    “We do not know how to pray as we ought” (Romans 8:26); “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1).  The disciples asked Jesus to teach them because they had seen him, off by himself, praying – and they wanted in on whatever he had.  He responded by sharing with…

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Prayer: Speak, Lord

Prayer: Speak, Lord    In our sanctuary worship services, during the prayers the pastor will say Lord, in your mercy – and the congregation adds, Hear our prayer.  The first good news of prayer, the safe assumption we make, our belief in what we cannot see but need more than what we can see, is…

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Prayer: Humility

Prayer: Humility    “O Lord, my heart is not lifted up, my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great for me; but I have quieted my soul, like a child held closely by its mother” (Psalm 131). How strange is this prayer in a world like ours,…

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