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How Shall I Pray…

Real prayer happens when we finally get to the end of ourselves, when we stop posing and posturing; when we stop trying to impress God with our vocabulary and understanding. The moment we wonder if we can really “pray like this” is more than likely the moment when your prayer has transcended religious rhetoric becoming as beautiful as the song sung to her daddy by a three-year-old…unskilled, unrefined but infused with hope and love.

For those wondering how they should pray tonight because the burden they bear is too heavy and the nights too long…for those wondering how they should pray when words seem so impotent and deep sighs seem verbose…for those wondering how they should pray tonight, take a moment and absorb the following prayer written by Ted Loder, it’s pure gold.

Monty

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How shall I pray?
     Are tears prayers, Lord?
     Are screams prayers, 
          or groans
             or sighs
                or curses?
Can trembling hands be lifted to you,
     or clenched fists
          or the cold sweat that trickles down my back
               or the cramps that knot my stomach?
Will you accept my prayers, Lord, 
      my real prayers,
           rooted in the muck and the mud and the rock of my life,
and not just my pretty, cut-flower, gracefully arranged
     bouquet of words?
Will you accept me, Lord,
     as I really am, 
          messed up mixture of glory and grime?
Lord, help me!
Help me to trust that you do accept me as I am, 
that I may be done with self-condemnation
     and self-pity
          and accept myself.
Help me to accept you as you are, Lord:
     mysterious,
          hidden, 
               strange, 
                    unknowable; 
and yet to trust
     that your madness is wiser
          than my timid, self-seeking sanities,
and that nothing you’ve ever done
     has really been possible,
so I may dare to be a little mad, too.

~Ted Loder

Bless What Eludes My Grasp: Loder

Powerful prayers Have you ever been praying for someone…some things…and you just knew that there was something else you were supposed to pray about? There was someone on your list of people that was eluding your mind in the moment and it gnawed at you so you prayed the generic prayer to the sovereign God of forgettful people reminding Him that He knew all and you remember scant little…We have all been there. In this prayer we are reminded that there are things that elude our grasp, so we trust in the God that is larger than our grasp.  MC

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Lord, so many things skitter through my mind,

and I give chase to gather them

    and hold them up in a bunch to you,

but they go this way and that

    while I go that way and this…

So, gather me up instead

and bless what eludes my grasp but not yours:

    trees and bees, fireflies and butterflies,

    roses and barbecues, and people…

Lord, bless the people…bless the people:

    birthday people,

        giving birth people,

            being born people;

    conformed people,

        dying people,

            dead people;

    hostaged people,

        banged up people,

            held down people;

    leader people,

        lonely people,

            limping people;

    hungry people,

        surfeited people,

            indifferent people;

    first world people,

        second world people,

            third world people;

    one world people,

        your people,

            all people.

Bless them, Lord.

Bless what eludes my grasp but not yours.

~Ted Loder (Guerillas of Grace)

Evening Reflection

Fri_abbey

The following is a great reflection taken from "A Diary of Private Prayer" by John Baillie.

Breathe deeply and read slowly tonight 🙂

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Almighty God,

In this quiet hour I seek communion with Thee. From the fret and fever of the day's business, from the world's discordant noises, from the praise and blame of men, from confused thoughts and vain imaginations of my own heart, I would now turn aside and seek the quietness of Thy presence. All day long I have toiled and striven: But now, in the stillness of heart and in the clear light of Thine eternity, I would ponder the pattern my life is weaving.

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Spend some time pondering the pattern your life is weaving…today was busy, where do you see God involved in your day? Where did you maybe miss His invitation to you? How will you become more aware of His presence around you tomorrow?

Dei Gratia,

Monty

 

 

 

Night Rhythm

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As I move through the day, so often the rhythms of life, grace, and peace fade against the banging non-life-giving beats that flood my ears with noise. At first, the gradual fading seems unnoticeable, and then suddenly you realize you are out of sync with reality, life, others and mainly God.

As I purposefully practice the God-rhythms of life during each day, I find myself experiencing a connectedness to God and others that begs for better words to describe. Practicing and entering into the God-rhythm of life is not a check list of spiritual practices that you must master in order to have an enlightened moment. It is also not some secret extra knowledge that you must search for…God is not that capricious.

Experiencing God-rhythm, and sensing His presence in your heart,is possible. No matter what is happening in the world, or what is going on around you, you can begin to pull yourself back from the four corners of the world that your soul has migrated too, and become grateful for the moment that you have…right now.

Even as you are reading this entry, your mind, or a portion of your conscious and subconscious thought-life, has taken a trip somewhere. Maybe it soared to a person that you are just head-over-heels in love with. Maybe, it went to the warm memory of you mom or dad who are no longer with you, but you miss them. Perhaps it is sermonizing at someone who hurt you, and in your mind you are dumping a verbal barge on them! Or just maybe, you are thinking about your to-do list, or what needs to get done at work tomorrow.

Regardless of where some part of your thought-life has gone, you now realize that you are not completely present at this moment. When we are not present, it is very hard, maybe even impossible, to feel and enter into God's divine rhythm.

What should we do?

So…we grace ourselves as our mind wanders…and we grace ourselves as our focus seems minuscule…and we grace ourselves when we struggle to be present…We grace ourselves because God would, and God does…but we have a hard time letting ourselves off the hook. But when we don't grace ourselves we force the rhythm.

Forced rhythm defeats your goal, it overshadows your desire, it makes mechanical that which God intended to be natural…grace yourself…let yourself off the hook…take advantage of this imperfect moment of your spirituality and simply enjoy it…soon you will feel the rhythm.

God's rhythm is always pulsating…it is always there…our need is to simply leave our baggage of performance, perfection, and professional religion at the door and take a deep breath and say…"Hey, Abba…I'm here, would you slowly reign in the rest of me so that we can dance?"

If this concept if utterly foreign to you, and your moments with God have looked more like a shotgunned monologue of wants and needs, then it is time for you to experience God's true rhythm in your life.

It would be good to gracefully look for some time in the morning and some time in the evening to reign in all of you to be with God…Nothing fancy, nothing to memorize, no religious shtick…just you and God.

One rhythm prop that I like to use to still my thoughts, and bring my wandering heart home is reading a Psalm…The Psalms are authentic, honest, real. They give words to doubt, anger and struggles, as well as redirect the wandering mind to the source of all life-rhythm.

Here is a night rhythm Psalm for you…all you need is a moment…find a quiet corner…turn off the electronics…get comfortable…breath deeply…and tell God you really need to rest in His presence and feel the rhythm of His heart. When you are ready, read the Psalm slowly…don't force it…release your expectations…and simply enjoy the words, they were inspired by God, and they have a life and a rhythm of their own!
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Psalm 131

    Lord, as this day ends,
    soul and body, I am tired.
    And all I have done:
    is it worthwhile?
    I need you, Lord,
    where can I turn, except to you?

    O Lord, my heart is not
proud, nor are my eyes haughty;
    I busy not myself with great things too sublime for me.
    Nay rather, I have stilled and quieted my soul like a weaned child.
    Like a weaned child on its mother's lap,
    so is my soul within me.
    O Israel, hope in the Lord,
    both now and forever.
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As you begin to build a natural rhythm of God-connection in your daily life…you will want to keep an eye on your motivations and expectations. So quickly, we turn what is a natural and life-giving rhythm into a formula or rigid "must-do-to-get-through" religious exercise.

So relax, enjoy a rhythm section in the morning, and a rhythm section in the evening…enter into the unforced rhythm of God's grace. I will post some more morning and night rhythms for you to use, and I pray that the beats of the world would dissipate as the rhythm of God crescendos in your soul.

Dei Gratia,
Monty