Prayer Is The First Action


Prayer is a powerful thing. I have seen its power in my own life and those around me. Amazing things have happened, blessings that come after trials.

But prayer is misunderstood. Either the belief that prayer fixes everything, instantly. That if we do not get what we ask for then it is all bollox.  When we view it as an all or nothing easy fix then we in turn limit the power of prayer. Boxing it in to specified parameters, not allowing for God to work.

A friend once said she never says Amen, because she saw praying as continual and never ceasing. I have adapted this same attitude in my prayer life.

Prayer has been the most transformative act of my life. By seeking God continually, I have been challenged to change and grow. I learned so much of who God intended for me to become. I cannot imagine my life without prayer.

It is not to say it is easy to always believe. When bad things happen to ones we love or long for good things for ourselves. Then there is another shooting, or bombing. A flood or storm sweeps a town away. Hashtag pray for _________ begin to surface throughout social media. Or some variation there of.

It seems to proliferate so much that it can become trite, no matter how heartfelt the message. What can it really matter to post it? Does #prayfor_________ lose it’s intention the more we post it?

The answer is that grey area in between. Between what we want and what God is doing. This is where the tension lies doesn’t it? We want things to be better, so we pray. We want things to be good or go well, so we pray. We plead why and get angry, so we pray.

Prayer doesn’t give us what we want but what we need.  This can be a hard pill to swallow. Getting what is needed as opposed to what ww want isn’t nearly as fun. It’s not about that instant result but instead one that comes from time.

I believe in the power of prayer. That miracles do happen and this life is less than when prayer is left out of it.

Prayer should be our first action but not our only reaction. If anything, prayer should push us into action.[Tweet “Prayer should be our first action but not our only reaction. If anything, prayer should push us into action.”]

Prayer is powerful. I have seen its power in my own life, working in the most unexpected ways. It can be hard as we see the same things happen again and again. As news becomes seemingly more grim, the idea of prayer without results we want is a hard one to understand. It is one of the mysteries of prayer, that at times there are no instant or easy answers. Pray can sometimes feel as if one is treading water, not going forward or going backwards. Other times prayer moves mountains, things change or move in ways that God’s hand is undeniable.

Being Forgotten and Then Remembered

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In conjunction with the release of Sarah Bessey’s new book Out Of Sorts, I am participating in a synchblog. If you haven’t read her blog or her previous book, Jesus Feminist I highly reccomend you do. Her voice is often breath of fresh air on the interwebs and I look forward to reading her latest book!

I used to thinkthat I was forgotten, but now I think I am beloved.

When I was a child, I went on road trips with my parents. My dad enjoyed looking at historical sights, often this meant graveyards. Graveyards filled with headstones whose names were well worn off. Lives that were now forgotten.

It saddened me, that lives fully lived could be forgotten. It struck me that, my life would also be forgotten. A fear was born. I feared that this would become my fate. My life here forgotten once all those who loved me leave this world. I can’t say that this is exactly when this fear began but it sure didn’t help it.

And this fear grew as I entered my teen years. As I grieved the loss of several family members over a three year span. As I tried to fit in but didn’t. Becoming jealous when hearing of others going out and I wasn’t invited. I began to feel that being forgotten was simply my lot in life.

Then I met Jesus. I began to read the Bible and I learned something crucial. That the Lord doesn’t need me, but instead that he wanted me. He had never forgotten me in all the time I felt so. He had pursued me as I pursued friendships and approval.

He is my creator, he brought me to life. I felt so forgotten and hopeless because I didn’t know of the amazing love Jesus has for me. How this truth that I am his beloved, royal daughter squashed this fear of being forgotten.

Those moments of jealousy and anger can still crop up from time to time. But I am quickly reminded of who I am Christ. I will never be doomed to being forgotten.

What Does Communion Mean To You

What is it about communion that can both draw us and at times force us to step back. Almost every church has their version of having communion. Some denominations have it every Sunday such as my church and others every month or even every few months. I grew up in the Catholic faith where every Mass communion is blessed and taken. As a child, when I took my first communion I did not fully comprehend what it was I was doing. All I knew was that it was part of our faith, that the wafer in my hands was in fact the body of Christ and the wine ( offered to those older than myself) was the blood of Christ. I can now confess that I never did believe in this transfiguration.

For years, this lack of belief in the aspect of being Catholic lead to a questioning of my faith in Jesus. I wanted to believe in Him, longed to in fact but often felt myself a fraud. How could I long for Jesus but not believe in transfiguration? Was I the only fraud continuing to take communion or were there other doubters? I felt obligated to stand up at service and come forward, to avoid answering uncomfortable questions from my mom as to why I had not. Taking it at the end of every service became routine. It was something that we did on the way out the door. I did not take into consideration what communion was meant to be for me. For all of us.

When I converted from Catholicism, not taking communion at the end of every service was still new to me. It had become so ingrained in that this is how services were supposed to go. For a time after my conversion I was wrestling with some heavy things. Fighting against spiritual battles and feeling all alone. Feeling as if I was not worthy to have communion with Him. Forgetting I had been MADE worthy already. That the act of communion is Him meeting us where we are at, right at that moment. It is to remember the sacrifice He made for us, for me.

Slowly, these trials began to subside. Just as they did, things began to change at my church. We were a satellite campus of a larger church and had just gotten a new pastor. He wanted to do communion differently. No more would we be using the pre-made cups of juice with a wafer on top. From now on our campus would use a loaves of bread  and a glass of juice. Tearing off a piece of bread and dipping it into the glass of juice. Later when we were launched as a church plant, it was decided to have communion every Sunday. This was an adjustment for many of us but something that we as a church family came together on.

As we came together each week to partake of this family meal, my relationship with communion changed. Part of it had to do with having the responsibility of purchasing the elements. Setting up a table to with loaves of bread and glasses of juice each week. It is rather interesting how God uses the things of our past. My grandfather was heavily involved in the Catholic church as a lay minister. He brought communion to those in nursing homes and the homebound, unable to attend mass to receive it. This thread of connection between the two of us has become evident in my own life. Each Sunday I am the one ( for the most part) to purchase loaves of bread fresh from the grocery store bakery.

At the end of service our pastor calls up those who want to partake to come forward. There are no ushers and sometimes the lines are rather bunched and unorganized looking. But I rather like this aspect of how we do communion. It is not perfect or meant to be perfect.

Those who partake come forward and take a piece of bread the server holding it whispers “His body broken for you.” Some take small pieces and others larger. As someone once said to me, they took a larger piece because they needed more of Him that day. For He is truly the bread of life. That piece of bread is then dipped into a cup of grape juice, the server whispers, “ His blood spilled for you.”

Those times when I get to serve, I make eye contact with each and every person coming forward. If I know their name I try to remember to include say it to them as they take their bread and dip it into the cup of grape juice. Another lesson I have had is that the elements are not what matters. It is our hearts, our seeking of Jesus, of this moment of remembrance. If the bread is a different type or the juice a different brand than normal, this does not matter. Communion is not about the elements, it is about our heart for Jesus as we take it. To contemplate and reflect. Perhaps to confess and seek prayer. A time too to praise Him for what he has done.

This is where I am at with communion. It is where God has met me. It no longer a routine thing to tick off the list of things to do. I no longer feel obligated to take part every Sunday. It is not that I do not need to remember what Jesus has done on the cross. When I do come forward and receive it is with a heart full of remembrance. That is what matters most.

I think of my grandfather bringing communion to those who were unable to attend Mass. Our delivery systems and faith are rather different but the same Jesus meets us there. Feeding that spiritual hunger. Filling us from the inside. He is enough. He is all we need. That is what communion means to me. That we do it in remembrance of the sacrifice made for me on the cross. It is about being cared for and feed by my Lord.

His body broken for me. His body broken for you.

His blood spilled for me. His blood spilled for you.

Luke 22: 17-20

And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among ourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes”. And he took the bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”. And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.C

How To Pray for Singles

Lately, something has been bugging me about praying for the marriages in our churches. Not just because it is yet another reminder of my singleness. A question formed in my mind, Why aren’t singles in the church as specifically prayed for? I don’t believe that this is because we are thought of as less than marrieds. This may have more to do with the mentality towards singleness. Even from those of use in the midst of it. That somehow our lives and struggles are not as important as those who are married. Or that this state of being is more private to be prayed about so publicly.

It is of course important to pray for marriage. It is hard, challenging, full of trials and blessings.  It is a beautiful example of Christ’s love for us.

But so is singleness. Being a single in the church today is more of the norm than not. A pew poll from 2012 found that this group is in fact growing. For a number of reasons people are waiting longer to get married. Or are recovering from past relationships. Or like me have never been in a relationship.

In fact most churches are having to adjust how to minister to us. (I will touch on this more on another post).

Which is why it is just as important to remember to pray for us. Singleness can be just as challenging, full of trials and blessings. Pray not only for our potential, future marriages but also for our lives right now.

The majority of us are searching for our spouse. Pray that we be discerning in pursuing a spouse .  Pray for us as we try online dating and get to know new people. Pray for us as we pursue our dreams and establish ourselves. Keep in mind too not necessarily all of us are looking for that in our lives. Marriage, like college may not be for everyone.

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Growing Through Prayer

Recently life has gotten complicated. Demands on my time have been needed. I am more than happy to be able to help.

However I soon found myself drained. Doing what I always end up doing, taking all of it on myself.  Asking for help has been hard for me. Even as a kid, my stubbornness in this lead to frustration. I hated having to ask for help because it meant I was not able to do it on my own.

Asking for help was weak. Sadly, in some ways this is how I have often looked at prayer.

That somehow God would think me weak for praying. I had forgotten that I am renewed through prayer.
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The act of prayer is seeking God. It is saying that I recognize that I am not able to do this on my own.

This is not a new lesson for me. Again and again, God has shown me the power of prayer.

But I am stubborn. Perhaps it is my Irish ancestry, but I am stubborn.

My God wants me to seek Him. He wants me to be dependent on Him.
Not because He is egotistical.  But because of his love for me. He can take on all my burdens.  That is the truth. He can take it ALL on!

Not just a specific one or some of them. But Every. Single. One.

That is what I had forgotten. It is in fact weakness to not seek Him. To not pray.

Praying does take away the problems we face. It does help to handle them, to discover the strength that only God can give us. That is what is most Important.