Category: Prayer (page 1 of 21)

Fasting for the Lamb

Today is our annual Day of Prayer and Fasting at Central in preparation for our Missions Sunday October 27. Our whole congregation abstains from food on this day in order to — all of us together — focus our minds and our bodies on God’s mission for his world and our roles in that mission. Our hope is that we will find a deeper connection to our God today, that we’ll become more aware of and focused on his great mission in the world and our roles in it, and that we’ll be refreshed to enter into that calling with renewed energy and a deeper faith.

Our chapel is set up today with prayer stations and prayer guides to help. I love praying in our chapel on this day. The images of our foreign missionaries and our local missions partners fade on and off the screen — these people we love so much, who have offered their very lives in service to our Lord and his Kingdom. The Scriptures on the screen remind us that our God is reconciling and restoring all of creation and we’re somehow privileged to be in on it with him. The chapel feels extra sacred today as folks quietly come and go.

When our stomachs growl today, we’ll be reminded that we are “Living for the Lamb.” When we say “no” to lunch and  snacks throughout the day, we’ll be saying “yes” to bringing our selfish desires in conformity with our Lord who came not to be served, but to serve. And when we break the fast as a church family tonight with a congregational dinner, we’ll be reminded that we’re all in this together.

Peace,

Allan

The Church Prays

Father, we pray for the United States of America. There are dark places in this country, Lord. Please open our eyes to see and give us courage to act so that we may shine the light of your goodness and mercy into those spaces.

There are hurting people in this nation, Lord. Please open our hearts to feel, and give us the vision and the initiative to provide comfort and healing and peace.

There are divisions in this country, Lord. Please unite your Church, bring us together in worship and service, so the people of the United States will know that you are Lord.

There is sin in the United States, Lord. Please open our souls to live and work together as your people in this nation, in forgiving others, in loving our enemies, in sacrificing, in suffering, in putting the needs of others ahead of our own, in pointing our neighbors to the glory of your great Name and to the free gift of salvation in your Son.

Wake us up, Lord. Give us a renewed awareness of the pain and the problems around us. We pray for healing, Father, for our families, for our churches, for our country. Send your Holy Spirit, God, to work in us and through us for the sake of this land. And may your holy will be done in and through your Church in the United States just as it is in heaven.

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

I Trust You Now

Lord Jesus, I believe that you are able and willing to deliver me from all the care and unrest and bondage of my Christian life. I believe you did die to set me free, not only in the future, but now and here. I believe you are stronger than sin, and that you can keep me, even me, in my extreme of weakness, from falling in its snares or yielding obedience to its commands. And Lord, I am going to trust you to keep me. I have tried keeping myself, and have failed, and failed, most grievously. I am absolutely helpless. So now I will trust you. I give myself to you. I keep back no reserves. Body, soul, and spirit, I present myself to you as a piece of clay, to be fashioned into anything your love and your wisdom shall choose. And now I am yours. I believe you do accept that which I present to you; I believe that this poor, weak, foolish heart has been taken possession of by you, and that you have even at this very moment begun to work in me to will and to do of your good pleasure. I trust you utterly, and I trust you now.

~Hannah Whitall Smith

Who Am I?

Who Am I?
by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 1944

Who am I? They often tell me
I step from my cell’s confinement
calmly, cheerfully, firmly,
like a Lord from his manor.

Who am I? They often tell me
I speak to my jailers
freely, friendly, firmly,
as though they were mine to command.

Who am I? They also tell me
I bear the days of hardship
unconcerned, amused, proud,
like one accustomed to winning.

Am I then really that which other men tell me?
Or am I only what I myself know of me?
Restless and longing and sick, like a bird in a cage
struggling for breath as though hands were compressing my throat,
yearning for colors, for flowers, for songs of birds,
thirsting for words of kindness, for human company,
quivering with anger at despotism and insults,
anxiously waiting for the next event,
helplessly worrying for friends at an infinite distance,
weary and empty at praying, at thinking, at working,
exhausted, and ready to say farewell to it all.

Who am I? This or the Other?
Am I one person today and tomorrow another?
Am I both at once? A hypocrite before others
and by myself a contemptible, whining weakling?
Or is something within me like a beaten army
fleeing in disorder from a victory already achieved?

Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions of mine.
Whoever I am, you know me, O God. I am yours!

Daylight from the Lord

When Joshua defeated the Amorites, he prayed to God in the middle of the battle. He was running out of daylight, they were needing more time, and he prayed to God to make the sun stand still.

Joshua didn’t know the sun doesn’t move. If you’re going to get more daylight, you need to ask God to make the earth stand still, not the sun. Joshua didn’t know. He prayed for the wrong thing. He prayed with mistaken assumptions. He didn’t have all the information.

But God still gave him more daylight.

Today, we pray with mistaken assumptions. We don’t have all the information. We ask for the wrong things. But God still gives us daylight.

We engage our neighbors with the Good News, we talk to our friends at work about Christ, and we don’t have all the information. We don’t know the half of everything that’s really happening around us and inside that conversation. We speak with mistaken assumptions. But God still gives us daylight.

Peace,

Allan

Everybody’s a Christian

Another of the things we must stop believing if we are to become more faithful proclaimers of the Good News in our communities is this feeling that Everybody We Know is Already a Christian. We think that everybody we meet in our town — this is especially difficult for us in the Bible Belt South and Southwest — is a Christian. We must stop believing that everybody in our city goes to church. Because they don’t. And we also need to stop believing that people who don’t follow Christ  have all heard the Good News about Jesus and thought it through and made the decision to reject it. That’ s not true, either.

Census research in Randall and Potter Counties here in our Texas panhandle and surveys done recently by our local newspaper reveal that almost 50% of the people in Amarillo do not have a church home. One out of every two people we run into at work or at the store doesn’t go to church.

And there’s an increasing number of people who don’t know very much at all about Jesus. Over the last couple of decades, kids in this country are being raised differently than the ways most of us were raised. And there are lots of men and women in their 20s and 30s who have never heard the Good News. That’s difficult for us to believe — they’ve never heard it! We’ve got to stop believing everybody already has. It shuts down our desire to witness. It tempers the urgency to share the Gospel.

Our culture today is a lot more like the first century of Acts than it is the United States of the 1940s and 1950s. We can learn a lot by reading and re-reading Acts.

In the face of serious opposition, when the culture opposed them, when society ridiculed them, when the government threatened them, the Church did not pray for wisdom or protection or favor with the authorities. They don’t ask God to change any of the circumstances. They pray for two things. They ask for strength to obey, to have the nerve and guts and faith to continue to speak boldly about the Christ. And they ask for God to act in his mighty power, to do what he needs to do to advance the Kingdom of Heaven.

“Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” ~Acts 4:29

The prayer is not about numbers or relevancy or new laws or positive press. The concern of the Church is for the Word to go forth and for Christ Jesus to be glorified. To speak more boldly about the Good News in a culture that isn’t Christian and to praise God when he does amazing things.

Peace,

Allan

« Older posts