I’ve mentioned my love for Lois A. Cheney’s poetry before, but today I wanted to share one of my favorites from her book “God is No Fool.” She reminds me to persevere AND rest in prayer.
seventy-one by Lois A. Cheney
I’ve mentioned my love for Lois A. Cheney’s poetry before, but today I wanted to share one of my favorites from her book “God is No Fool.” She reminds me to persevere AND rest in prayer.
seventy-one by Lois A. Cheney
Lots of things have influenced my prayer life: books, people, liturgy, teaching, and experiences. But a teaching and experience combo on the top of a mountain in Israel stands out above the rest.
Mount Arbel is a mountain in lower Galilee with high cliffs and views in every direction. On a clear day you can see across the Sea of Galilee, to the heights of Mount Hermon and into the Golan Heights.
The journey to the top was intense. We fought our way up Mt. Arbel, removing layers of clothes as we entered the low-lying clouds. The hike kept us panting, but the scenery took my breath away. I chatted with my fellow hikers in between gasps, totally unaware of where our journey was taking us. But eventually we reached the top. If I close my eyes I can picture that first look: windy, chilly, rolling dark clouds, the Sea of Galilee, and tiny villages dotting the entire landscape.
We bundled back up and sat down. (I love that… went up on a mountain and sat down… to pray. Sounds familiar.)
We were reminded of the strenuous hike taken to reach this quiet place, and the journey that Jesus would have taken to get away from the crowds.
“Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.“ (Luke 5:15-16)
eremos topos – solitary/quiet place – in Hebrew: desolate or deserted.
“Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve—designating them apostles…” (Mark 3:13-14)
Jesus quite possibly spent the night on this solitary mountain top and then called His disciples. I found myself straining to grasp the lesson our trip leader was trying to communicate. It felt as though the rain and wind were doing everything in their power to keep me cold and miserable, but then something happened to change my entire attitude and perspective. It’s something so simple, and yet it’s a picture that will help me in my times of prayer for the rest of my life.
Our trip leader called out to a guy in our group. “Kyle, will you join me up front?”
Kyle, a tall twenty-something with red hair, obliged. Kyle was encouraged to name someone he looked up to or a celebrity he would like to meet. He chose the author J.R. Tolkien. Our leader, Matt, then took on the persona of J.R. Tolkien carrying a basket of bread for the illustration. “Kyle,” he said, “I want you to ask me for one of my loaves of bread. And by the way, you are homeless and very hungry.”
Kyle grovelled a bit reminding Mr. Tolkien just how much he loves all of his books. He went on to pay his respects, to mention favorite books, and then to gently ask, saying please several times, if he could have some bread.
Tolkien eventually relented and handed Kyle an imaginary piece of bread.
Except then our trip leader did something else a bit unexpected. You see, Kyle’s father was also on our trip. He was called to the front and asked to stand next to Kyle.
Kyle put his arm around his father and asked simply and without hesitation, “Dad, may I please have some bread?”
I’ll admit, I became a little choked up as father and son hugged and shared a moment on the top of the mountain of prayer. I lost it when our guide turned to us and said, “Just ask. You aren’t speaking to the CEO of a company or an angry dictator. You are talking to your Father. Ask. Ask. Ask. Ask. Ask. And He Gives. Gives. Gives. Gives. Gives.”
Mt. Arbel has changed they way that I pray because I have a better picture of my Heavenly Father, a reminder that He invites us to connect with Him, to seek Him, and to simply ask of Him.
One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
Jesus said to them, “When you pray, say this:
May your holy name be honored;
may your Kingdom come.
Give us day by day the food we need.
Forgive us our sins,
for we forgive everyone who does us wrong.
And do not bring us to hard testing.’”
And Jesus said to his disciples, “Suppose one of you should go to a friend’s house at midnight and say, ‘Friend, let me borrow three loaves of bread. A friend of mine who is on a trip has just come to my house, and I don’t have any food for him!’ And suppose your friend should answer from inside, ‘Don’t bother me! The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ Well, what then? I tell you that even if he will not get up and give you the bread because you are his friend, yet he will get up and give you everything you need because you are not ashamed to keep on asking. And so I say to you: Ask, and you will receive; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you.For those who ask will receive, and those who seek will find, and the door will be opened to anyone who knocks. Would any of you who are fathers give your son a snake when he asks for fish? Or would you give him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? As bad as you are, you know how to give good things to your children. How much more, then, will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:1-13, GNT)
“And there is none that calleth upon thy name that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee…” (Isaiah 64:7, KJV)
Isaiah 64:7 – “How to Pray”
To fasten upon; seize; be strong; courageous; obstinate; to bind; restrain; conquer; catch; cleave to; be constant; continue; force; lay hold on; maintain; play the man; wax mighty; prevail; retain; be urgent; wax strong.
All these meaning can be understood in connection with prayer. If one would stir himself up in this manner, refusing to be denied, and if he would appropriate every benefit of the promises and covenants of God which have been freely and abundantly given to men – all men, then such a person would experience answers to prayer for body. soul. and spirit. for both himself and others.
From the Dake Annotated Reference Bible, Finis Dake
“Then Abraham prayed…
Then Moses left Pharaoh and prayed…
Then Manoah prayed to the LORD…
Then Samson prayed…
So David prayed…
Elijah stepped forward and prayed…
And Elisha prayed, “O, LORD”…
After Job had prayed for his friends…
And Hezekiah prayed to the LORD…
Daniel gt down on His knees and prayed…
From inside the fish Jonah prayed…
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed…
Going a little farther, He fell with his face to the ground and prayed.”
(Uses of the word pray in its various forms from Genesis to Revelation.)
Recently I have been thinking, praying, discovering, and learning what prayer does and could look like in my life. I’m looking forward to learning together this week.
My favorite food has changed over the years. When I was younger it was definitely ribs. I still love ribs, I just can’t eat them too often. My teeth need a break, and so does my waist. If pressed, my answer now might be shrimp, but it’s too easy to get bad seafood in the middle of the desert. So for the last five years my response to “What’s your favorite food?” has been chips and salsa AND ranch. Go ahead, raise your eyebrows. But I dare you… mix the ranch and the salsa, dip your chip, and then get back to me. I love it. But this is also a very, very dangerous delicacy to love. I am notorious for eating multiple baskets of chips and salsa prior to the arrival of my meal at restaurants. By the time my food arrives I’ve filled up on carbs and don’t have room for any of the things my body actually needs. Tortilla chips may fill me up for a while, but they certainly won’t satisfy or sustain me for long.
I may have a new obsession. I loved falafel before Israel, but now I might be mildly addicted and on the hunt for a hole-in-the wall place to serve it up hot and fresh out of a FRYER. So not great for me. But soo good. Oh. My. Goodness. NOM. NOM. Darn you, fried chickpeas!
Isaiah 55:2 reads, “Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.”
I find it interesting that we are to LISTEN in order to eat what is good. That tells me that God’s Word is food for my hungering soul. My friend Lauren reminds me that God’s portion isn’t stingy! Forget the picture of stale bread and dirty water. Throw that image out of your mind. God’s Word is compared to good food and the richest of fare! It’s filling, pleasureful and overflowing. Why would a God who LOVES to give good gifts fill us with anything less?
“Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:25-26, NIV)
This world is full of some amazing diversions, but we know in our hearts there must be more than simply drinking coffee and following celebrity gossip. Jesus said in John 10:10 He has come to bring the abundant life. We choose everyday whether we will fill up on carbs or make our way to the Banquet table that holds the real feast.
I want to feel the way about God’s Word that I do about food. I want to crave it, thirst for it, hunger after it. It’s not just satisfying… it’s so good for me.
I’m so thankful He loves to answer this prayer: Lord, let me love your Word. If your appetite still hasn’t been wet by the Word, can I challenge and invite you to join me and pray this prayer today?
It’s 5:00am in Arizona and I’ve been up since 3:00. Perhaps sleeping 12 hours the night before wasn’t the best idea. Regardless, I spent the last two hours tossing and turning and praying and dreaming until I just couldn’t stand it any more. I had to get up.
I just pulled up my e-mail account and noticed a string of messages from my friend, Jon. Jon is my web guru of sorts. He is part of a small team of magic workers who graciously provide advice and skill to this technology/media deficient soul. I mentioned something yesterday about wanting some future changes and tweaks and the man took the idea and ran with it! If you are reading through google reader you probably won’t notice anything different, but the blog is getting a makeover to say the least. THANK YOU, JON!!
Things are still in transition, so bear with me while we make everything all fancy. :)
Once I hit 3:30am on the clock this morning I knew I wouldn’t be heading back to sleep any time soon. So I turned to prayer. Usually my prayers during the night tend to go something like this, “Lord… please be with everyone that I know. Help me to love them. Now PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE help me to go back to sleep as soon as possible.”
My Aunt Kathy was able to join us on our trip to Israel. I loved having her there. The Lord used her to speak into my life just as powerfully as He did the lessons each day. She had trouble sleeping several nights. She would go to sleep by 9:00pm only to wake up at 1:00am or 3:00am. She told me how she used that time to pray for everyone in our family by name, to read God’s Word, and to search His heart. Not once did she talk about begging to go back to sleep.
I want my heart to be under God’s construction. I’ve seen and heard too much in the last two weeks to stay the same.
But there’s this part of me that’s terrified that I won’t be able to make all the changes; that somehow I will stay in the same ruts and routines. I stared into the darkness this morning and begged that God wouldn’t let me stay the same… that He would touch me and heal me.
In the stillness of the early hours of the morning I felt the answer wash over me like the waterfall I stood under at Ein Gedi. [In the desert where David hid from Saul! Check out Psalm 63!] His water causes dead things to come to life. As long as I am connected to the Living Water I will grow strong roots that can withstand any drought or flood. His power is what works in me, not my own strength or will. You don’t stand to the side of a stream and hope to get wet… you jump in. The water does the work. His passionate, filling, life-giving water is available each and every day. I just have to remember to come to the water.
“But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
whose confidence is in him.
He will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8, NIV
I once made a video about one of my favorite ways to pray. It was one of my favorite videos I have ever made. And to this day it is the 2nd least viewed video in the history of ever.
I’m sharing about “Praying in Color” again today because this avenue for prayer gave me such freedom in my prayer time! I was just telling another friend about it this week and I became so excited that I knew I wanted to share the video again.
I tried my best to create a short clip to help you understand the process developed and written about by SybilMacBeth. Sybil has lots of her own videos, books, seminars and other helps on the Praying in Color website and blog that I would encourage you to check out if this at all speaks to a creative side of you.
Let’s face it: we were made by a Creative God to increase His goodness in this world. Since we are indwelt by His Spirit and made in His image, we can also claim creativity as one of our defining traits… even when we don’t feel particularly gifted in this area.
I can tell you that some of my friends and co-workers panicked when we tried this together. They wanted more rules and structure. That’s fine! This isn’t for everyone. This is hopefully just another suggestion to get us out of our usual patterns and into some much needed time of communion and communication with the Father.
Here goes nothing!
Praying in color,
We are waking up at 3:00am tomorrow to pack up and head south of the border! It’s a short 4 hour drive to the coast and then we will set up for a day of medical clinics.
D will see to the physical needs of the kiddos who walk with their parents from all corners of the city.
I will try and be helpful by entertaining the little ones waiting for their parents to be seen by the other doctor. This time I’m armed with coloring books, crayons, footballs, and of course – the Jesus Storybook Bible in Spanish.
Will you join our small team and pray for our whirlwind 36 hour trip?
-Pray for safe travel
-Pray for a smooth border crossing
-Pray for the translators who work with the doctors so that each patient can feel understood and cared for
-Pray that our Spanish vocabulary and pronunciation continues to improve and expand
-Pray for the families who will walk with their children for miles to be seen by a pediatrician
-Pray that the never stopping, never giving up, unbreaking, always and forever love of Jesus would be shared in ways we couldn’t imagine
Thank you, friends!
I am feeling so tired of the ordinary. I seek out balance and then I remember that Jesus never commanded or demonstrated our idea of balance. He wasn’t centered. He did not live life in the middle- but on the edge. He was only and wholly centered on You.
The widow who gave her coins, didn’t give what was just in her pocket, she gave all that she had.
Wake me from this stupor, Oh Lord… from desiring furniture more than I desire Your face and Your glory. Let me want a better story.
Am I asking you to do my part of the equation? Have I lulled myself to sleep with coffee and trips to the gym? Why would I pray for you to change me and yet do nothing to change? I keep my schedule, my wants, my comfort, my gain… and yet I claim I want only You.
I think I want to serve and give and love on my terms. I want to share when I feel comfortable and when it’s convenient.
I don’t want just this.
I want more You.
I want less me.
Please help me to set my mind on Heavenly things and not on earthly things.
“So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.” Colossians 3:2, The Message
Following and stumbling,
Check out chapter 10 of the book of Mark. There’s a story there about a blind man (Bartimaeus) who was begging by the road. As Jesus and his disciples pass the man cries out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Some of the people were annoyed with him, but the man continued to only shout louder. Jesus finally responds and asks him this question: “What do you want me to do for you?”
Sometimes I struggle with how to pray more specifically. This story has challenged me to do just that. I’ll catch you after the video…
In Wide Awake Erwin McManus writes, “Now isn’t that a strange question? I mean, a blind man walks up to him, and Jesus asks, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ To begin with, Jesus is supposed to be God. Shouldn’t he already know what the blind man wants? But even if he wasn’t God and he was just intuitive, surely, with a blind guy standing in front of Him, what Bartimaeus wants would be pretty obvious…. Why make something so obvious a point of emphasis? It’s all about the question: ‘What do you want me to do for you?’”
He asks the same question of you as you approach the Throne of Grace.
Asking and Following,
Yesterday I jumped into the discussion that’s been all over the interwebs for the past few weeks. How do you live a good love story?
I want to recognize that not every good love story has to involve a wedding here on earth. Marriage is not the end all, be all culmination of this life. It’s not the goal. It’s certainly not the climax in the story. It’s simply a possible addition to the arc in your story. Plenty of men and women have lived single lives full of far more love than some marriages will ever demonstrate. As I said in the previous post, you start living a good love story by LIVING your life rather than waiting for life to happen to you.
Now that we’ve got that out in the open, I want to point out that V’s question specifically boiled down to requesting advice for someone hoping to one day be married: “Do you have any practical advice for what Christian singles can do to prepare for a future spouse?”
I went through a really warped time in my relationship with the Lord where I truly thought that unless I could be happy being a lonely, that I was being disobedient. There’s a problem with that line of thinking:
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” (Genesis 2:18, NLT)
I felt like I was being more holy by being completely alone. That’s not good. In fact, GOD says it’s NOT GOOD for us to be alone. Yes, He has given us the gift of marriage, but He has also given us the gift of platonic relationships. When I moved to Arizona I was alone. I could have spent my years watching television, going to the gym, and going to work… but I would have been terribly lonely. Somewhere along the way I realized that I was designed for community and relationship. We all are.
Life is going to contain some lonely bits, but I don’t think you should punish yourself with it. Some seasons will hold more friendships and relationships. Hurray! Others will require that you depend upon the Lord and remain thankful for a small circle of friends.
I also had a time in my life where I honestly believed that as long as I wanted “a someone” or to be married, that God was going to hold out on me until I learned to be content in the current situation. And while God does sometimes desire to teach us patience, there was another problem with my line of thinking.
And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
“You fathers—if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.” (Luke 11:9-13, NLT)
Second piece of practical advice: It’s ok to hope for it! It’s ok to want marriage. It’s ok to want a relationship. It’s ok to ASK for a relationship. Keep a watch on your heart. If you are spending more time praying for “someone” and wanting “someone” than living your life (loving God, loving others, and making disciples), then ask that God would help you to desire Him more than anything else this world has to offer. If you are IN a relationship and that other person has become your everything, ask that God would also show you how He should be the greatest desire of your heart.
We serve a God who loves to give good gifts in His perfect timing. He wants to hear from you and to know the desires of your heart. You don’t have to be ashamed of your requests or fearful of His response. Trust His timing and His desire to see you live an exciting and heroic story full of love.
Ginger Ciminello may sound like an Italian dessert but she is actually a speaker and blogger by trade. She spends her time encouraging young women to live up to their God-given potential and unique design at gingerciminello.com. When she’s not embarrassing herself by telling stories of her years in middle school, she can be found rollerblading, dancing in her car, and schooling her husband, David, in Scrabble.
Ginger Ciminello may sound like an Italian dessert but she is actually a speaker and blogger by trade. She spends her time encouraging young women to live up to their God-given potential and unique design at gingerciminello.com. When she’s not embarrassing herself by telling stories of her years in middle school, she can be found rollerblading, dancing in her car, and schooling her husband, David, in Scrabble. [Read More …]