“Christ is the one who in the most revealing way made clear that prayer means sharing in the power of God. Through this power he turned his world around. He freed countless men and women from the chains of their existence, but also stirred up the aggression which brought him to his death.
Christ, who is fully human and fully divine, has shown us what it means to pray.
In Him, God became visible for the fall and rise of many”
Brother Lawrence famously wrote of “the practice of the presence of God” – one of the finest descriptions of attentiveness to God. In his book of the same name he described how he considered himself “before God, whom I behold as my king” using three images: subject, son, and stone.
the Posture: kneeling, prostrate
“Touched with a sensible regret, I confess to Him all my wickedness, I ask His forgiveness, I abandon myself in His hands that He may do what He pleases with me. The King, full of mercy and goodness, very far from chastising me, embraces me with love…and treats me in all respects as His favorite…”
Kneeling or prostrate we pray: “As your Subject, redeem me – and converse with me as friend”.
the Posture: embracing, leaning, expressing need
“My most useful method is this simple attention, and such a general passionate regard for God, to whom I find myself often attached with greater sweetness and delight than that of an infant at the mother’s breast; so that, if I dare use the expression, I should choose to call this state the bosom of God, for the inexpressible sweetness which I taste and experience there”.
Embracing, leaning, we pray: “As your Son, embrace and nurture me”.
the Posture: sitting, desiring change and transformation
“As for my set hours of prayer, they are only a continuation of the same exercise. Sometimes, I consider myself there as a stone; presenting myself thus before God, I desire Him to form His perfect image in my soul, and make me entirely like Himself”.
Sitting, we pray: “As your Stone, form me into your image”.
Wherever you go, God is sending you.
Wherever you are, God has put you there.
God has a purpose in your being right where you are.
Christ, who indwells you by the power of his Spirit,
wants to do something in and through you.
Believe this and go in his grace, his love, his power.
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Dr. Richard Halverson (for many years chaplain of the U.S. Senate)
May GOD support us
all the day long
till the shadows lengthen
and the evening comes
and the busy world is hushed
and the fever of life is over
and our work is done.
Then in GOD’s mercy
may we be granted a safe lodging
and a holy rest
and peace at last.
MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I am following your will does not mean that in fact I am doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this, you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always, though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
Give us, O Lord, a steadfast heart, which no unworthy affection may drag downwards; give us an unconquered heart, which no tribulation can wear out; give us an upright heart, which no unworthy purpose may tempt aside. Bestow upon us also, O Lord our God, understanding to know you, diligence to seek you, wisdom to find you, and a faithfulness that may finally embrace you; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Drawn from the 139th Psalm, this prayer has helped many to order their days and move through them with an awareness of the presence of God.
“Search me and know my heart”
Is my heart centered right as I begin today?
“Test me and know my restless thoughts”
Recognize and rest from thoughts which will not let go.
“See if there is any hurtful way in me”
What hurts I have caused, or received, which need forgiving?
“Lead me in the way everlasting”
Rest in God’s hands.
That summer, seventy years ago, was very important in my life.
I was fourteen years old, and it had been a very difficult year. My adopted parents had a difficult relationship. I would sometimes lie awake at night listening to them argue.
My mother Ford, although a strong religious influence on me, was also a very troubled person. Early that year she simply left, and was gone for months – we did not know where. Later I learned she had gone to Winnipeg, and lived there under an assumed name, running from her fears. In late spring she returned but the strain in their marriage remained.
That summer I went for a week to the Blue Water Bible conference, a new place named for the deep blue river on which it stood. I had fun, liked the other kids, but expected to be bored by the speaker, Oswald J. Smith, a well-known pastor and missionary leader. I remember his shock of white hair and piercing blue eyes, and raspy voice.
When he announced his topic as the “Morning Watch” I was sure I’d be bored. Instead, as he told how he prayed, I was intrigued.
“I walk as I pray,” he said, “because I am quite nervous and if I kneel I get agitated. I pray out loud so my mind doesn’t wander. And I read a verse from the Psalms and turn it into a prayer to give me fresh words.”
That inspired me. I could pray and get exercise at the same time!
Early the next morning I got up, took a big Bible my mother had given me, and went by myself to a nearby woods. There I walked up and down, hoping no one was watching, read a Psalm, and said a prayer. What the Psalm was, or my words, I have no idea.
I do know that the presence of Jesus became very real to me. Prayer became more than rote words. I knew that God cared for a lonely fourteen year old and would be with me, no matter how hard things were at home.
That day prepared me for an opportunity to serve and lead which would come suddenly, just a few weeks later, when I was asked to lead a fledgling youth movement in our city.
I revisited that spot several years ago. The buildings are mostly gone. What is left is ramshackle. The grounds are weedy and rough. The woods where I prayed much smaller than I remembered.
But the reality of that morning has stayed with me across these many years.
And oh yes, I met Dr. Smith some years later and told him what that time meant to me. He was astonished.
“At Blue Water conference,” he exclaimed. “I thought nothing came out of that week at all”!
The Diary of an Old Soul (George MacDonald)
While I was rummaging through a pile of books I came across this collection of daily poem/prayers from the Scottish preacher George MacDonald. I had forgotten I had it.
MacDonald was instrumental in the conversion of C. S. Lewis, who wrote “I hardly know any other writer who seems closer or more continually close, to the Spirit of Christ himself.”
These will not be to everyone’s taste, with MacDonald’s singular style. But I find they often suit my own soul.
For example on Sunday before I preached at Wee Kirk in the North Carolina mountains I read this:
“In holy things may be unholy greed.
Thou givs’t a glimpse of many a lovely thing,
Not to be stored for use in any mind,
But only for the present spiritual need.
The holiest bread, if hoarded, soon will breed
The mammon-breath, the having-pride, I find.
‘Tis momently thy heart gives out heart- quickening.”
The book I imagine is out of print, but it’s healthy stuff,worth searching out for preachers like me, and others.