How do you pray?

Martin Luther was taking a break from the Reformation (like you do) and decided to get his hair cut.  His barber asked him a question whilst he sat there under the blade, “How do you pray?”  – the great reformer wrote a forty page response to his ‘lowly’ questioner.

Here’s a snippet:

barber“A good clever barber must have his thoughts, mind and eyes concentrated upon his razor and the beard and not forget where he is in his stroke and shave.  If he keeps talking or looking around or thinking of something else (however important), he is likely to cut a man’s nose or mouth or throat.  So anything that is to be done well ought to occupy the whole man with all his faculties and members.  As the saying goes:  he who thinks of many things thinks of nothing and accomplishes no good.  How much more must prayer possess the heart exclusively and completely if it is to be good prayer?”

This is good advice to us in our short attention span age, distracted from one second to the next with all manner of things that will keep us from Christian basics, such as prayer.  Prayer that “occupies the whole [person]” is a challenge that people who call themselves “Christians” must surely wrestle with.  Multi-tasking is not a virtue, even though our culture tells us it is.

I know I need this advice.  I know we likely all do.

 

(Picture: ‘Barbier Deutschland “Hofampterspiel” for King Ladislas “Posthumus”, c. 1455)

A Prayer

Merciful and loving God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we open our hearts before you now.
We repent of our sins.
Our praise and worship make no sense unless we are repentant.
We confess to you faithful God, our sins in thought, word, deed and nature.
We confess freely and boldly.
We are a redeemed and sanctified people.
Not by our own righteousness. As if.
But by your righteousness, and the righteousness you give to us.
We are so blessed to be called your people.

For you do not treat us as our sins deserve.
Neither do you leave us wallowing in them
You lift us up. You crown us with love and compassion.
You declare us sons and daughters; heirs and co-heirs.
We acknowledge we have been bought at great cost.
We are not our own; but belong to you, in relationship with each other.

You have sent your Spirit. The Spirit of Jesus to live in us.
Not to be religious but righteous.
Not to live in piety but in power.
Not to be aloof but to be a saint.
Not to be sanctimonious but to be a servant.

Father God,

May your heart for us ever shape and heal our own hearts.
May we see you not as an insurance policy but as you are: Holy, Holy, Holy.
May we share your love in real, genuine ways.
May our evangelism be empowered and Spirit led, courageous and fearless, yet wise.
May our witness be authentic, natural, loving, sacrificial.
May our service to others be beautified.
May our giving cost us more than the cost of giving!

Meet with us Father God. Meet with us in a vast and complex world of fear and pain.
Meet us in our own pain and sickness. We pray for healing in the name of Jesus.
We also pray not just for healing, but encounter. An encounter with the resurrected Jesus.
And Father, if we fear that our prayers have not been answered, as is the repeated testimony of the Psalms and of your people through the ages;
Assure us that if in our praying, our prayers have not been answered, we have.
So we do not lose hope; we do not despair. You are the Rock on which we stand. You alone.
You – Jesus, are faithful and true. All sufficient in life and eternity. Bread for body and soul.
May we ever feed on you, Lamb of God. May we ever seek you, Pearl of great price.
Lord Jesus Christ, you do have mercy on us. Build your church through us we pray.

Amen

IMG_6748Steps in Torquay on my daily dog-walk.

Send Your Word, O Lord

Send your Word, O Lord, like the rain, falling down upon the earth.
We seek your endless grace, with souls that hunger and thirst, sorrow and agonise.
We would all be lost in dark without your guiding light.

Send your Word, O Lord, like the wind, blowing down upon the earth.
We seek your wondrous power, pureness that rejects all sins,  though they persist and cling.
Bring us to complete victory; set us all free indeed.

Send your Word, O Lord, like the dew, coming gently upon the hills.
We seek your endless love.
For life that suffers in strife with adversities and hurts, oh send your healing power of love;
We long for your new world.”

By Yasushige Imakoma, The United Methodist Publishing House
(based on the text of a Japanese hymn)

dew

JOY!

DSC_0769Here’s a bit of a Puritan prayer on joy!  I don’t know who wrote it nor where it comes from, but I love it!

 

 

 

 

 

“You O Lord God are preparing joy for me and me for joy.
I pray for joy, wait for joy, long for joy.
Give me more than I can hold, desire or think of.
There is no joy like the joy of heaven, for in that state are no sad divisions, unchristian quarrels, contentions, evil designs, weariness, hunger, cold, sadness, sin, sufferings, persecutions, toils of duty.
O joyful place where none are sick.
O happy Lord where all are kings and queens.
O holy assembly where all are priests.
How free a state where none are servants except to You.
Bring me, bring us, speedily into the land of JOY.”
Amen

Blessed Trinity

A Latin hymn from the thirteenth century

Come, thou Holy Spirit, come:

And from thy celestial home send thy light and brilliancy.

Come, thou father of the poor,

Come, who givest all our store,

Come, the soul’s true radiancy.

Come, of comforters the best, of the soul the sweetest guest, sweetly and refreshingly.

Come in labour rest most sweet,

shade and coolness in the heat, comfort in adversity.

Thou who art the light most blest,

come, fulfil their inmost breast, who believe most faithfully.

For without thy Godhead’s dower,

man hath nothing in his power, save to work iniquity.

What is filthy make thou pure, what is wounded work its cure, water what is parched and dry.

Gently bend the stubborn will, warm to life the heart that’s chill, guide who goeth erringly.

Fill thy faithful who adore, and confess thee evermore, with thy seven-fold mystery.

Here thy grace and virtue send,

grant salvation in the end, and in heaven felicity.  Amen.

 

The Holy Spirit is certainly the weak link in the chain of Evangelical theology.  With the stress on Christology, we can miss so much more of the Trinity’s treasure.  Maybe we want to avoid some of the silliness and excesses of Pentecostalism, but boy have we needed much of Pentecostalism to remind us what we’re missing!  Yet tragically, instead of enjoying the fathomless glory of pneumatology (the doctrine of the Holy Spirit), we actually succumb to pneumaphobia!  And that is an evangelical train-wreck waiting to happen.

Another point of note, is that the Holy Spirit is suspect because he does not pander or subscribe to our denominational or theological structures.  Indeed, the Holy Spirit is a free-agent, a maverick.  Jesus did say the wind blows where it will!  He breaks rank, crosses over the other side, He will not be “owned” by us, by anyone; He is as free in Himself as the Son is free in the Father and the Father in the Son.  Blessed Trinity!

He is impossible to outwit, outsmart, predict or predetermine, and will not be bottled and bagged by any church, Christian, denomination, nation or whatever!  He does not bow to any theologian or “school of thought”, and is totally free, going wherever and whenever He wishes.  Mission, evangelism, faithfulness, wisdom, wholeness, true spirituality, life itself, are all to be found in Him.

Too many churches are passionate for the Father’s glory, absolutely determined in their Christ-centered faith (and rightly so), but err big time and languish in a spiritual impoverishment of biblical, cosmic and cataclysmic proportions by neglecting the Holy Spirit.  Remember, it is the role of the Holy Spirit to point us to Jesus, and it is Jesus who shows us the Father.

Read the Latin Hymn again as a prayer.  Pray it.  Come, thou Holy Spirit, come.

Blessed Trinity!

 

Prayer for Justice

Sabeel Wave of Prayer – Thursday 14th November 2013

A friend of Sabeel, Bo Forsberg from Sweden, offers a prayer for peace and justice; this prayer will also be read on the final day of our conference at our celebration of 25 years of Palestinian liberation theology.

Prayer for Sabeel

God of peace and opportunity, our Creator and Redeemer, we come to you to pray for your mercy, forgiveness, and a new start.

Instead of overcoming evil with good, we have stood by while goodness has been affronted.

We ask for your help to give peace a new chance to thrive in our world.

Give us the courage to expose evil thoughts and deeds, and to speak the truth. We do not believe in the right of the strong, the strength of armies, or the power of oppression. We believe in the equal value of all people, the power of non-violence, and solidarity based on justice.

We pray for your Holy Spirit to join our hearts and minds with the way of peace, so that our hearts may become a place where your mercy reigns.

God of justice, make us tools of your peace so that we may do your will and create a just future.

Lord, awaken your church, starting with me.

Lord, bring your flock to life, starting with me.

Lord, bring peace to the whole world, starting with me.

Lord, afford your love and truth to all people, starting with me.

Our Father… …أبانا

DSC_0599

Our Father

 أبانا
in heaven

 في السماء،
hallowed be your name

 ليتقدس اسمك

 

your kingdom come

ليأت ملكوتك
your will be done

لتكن مشيئتك
on earth as it is in heaven

على الأرض كما هي في السماء
give us this day our daily bread

يقدم لنا هذا اليوم خبزنا اليومي
and forgive us our sins

ويغفر لنا خطايانا
as we forgive those who sin against us

كما نغفر نحن لمن الخطيئة ضدنا
and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil

وتؤدي بنا الا الى اغراء لكن نجنا من الشرير
for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory

لأن لكم ملكوت والقوة والمجد
forever and ever

 إلى أبد الآبدين
amen

آمين.