Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Temptation: A Cause or Occasion for Enticement

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not let you be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make a way of escape, 
that you may be able to bear it. 
(1 Corinthians 10:13 NKJV)

To entice someone is to "attract artfully or adroitly by arousing hope or desire." (

Why should I ask God, the Father, to not lead me into temptation? Especially when I know God does not tempt anyone.  (James 1:13-15) A more accurate translation might be "Do not let us enter into temptation." In essence we are praying, "Prevent me from sinning or show me the way out before I even get tangled in it."

We are enticed by our selfish desires to give in to the temptations of this world: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, which beckon us daily. (1 John 2:15-16)

Each of the requests in this prayer have a daily necessity to them. Not only must I ask for daily sustenance, I need forgiveness and protection day by day. 

One of my temptations is to let down my guard by slowly neglecting these requests, until in desperation, I cry out the last petition of the prayer: "Lord, deliver me from evil!"

It is interesting that in some translations the phrase is stated: "Deliver us from the evil one."  
We know the tempter, the devil, does tempt us. He entices us to false hope (believing someone or something else can comfort us outside of God's divine love) or to despair (distrusting the goodness of God), both which arouse in us a selfish desire to numb ourselves to the pain and disappointments of life. 

As much as I need daily bread, I need daily deliverance. Deliverance from myself and from the temptation to believe lies from the enemy of my soul. And so, I must pray daily: "Lord Jesus, deliver me from evil. Fill me with your hope and truth. Amen."

How has God delivered you recently?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Forgive: To Grant Relief From Payment Of

Do not withhold your mercy from me, LORD;
 may your love and faithfulness always protect me.
(Psalm 40:11 NIV)

As I walk through the Lord's prayer, I must be ever mindful that I am addressing "Our Father." To ask our Father to forgive my shortcomings, mistakes, failures and wrongdoings can feel shameful, but once I confess, He always comforts, forgives, corrects and sets me on the straight path again. 

This request seems to have a qualifier that often throws me for a loop, because if God forgives in the same manner I forgive, I am in trouble.

Other versions say, "forgive us our sins, for we have forgiven those who sinned against us." Still difficult to get a grip on this concept, as I think it should say: "Since I [God] have forgiven you, go and do likewise." I am sure there have been many a theological debate as to what this sentence means, but at face value it is enough that God forgives me and does not make me pay for my sin.

Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! Jesus paid the debt. God isn't in heaven saying, "She's going to pay for this." He rips up my ledger and I am free. This stunning truth is the only real motivation for me to do likewise for others. 

Another definition of forgive says "to give up resentment of" and this is where I need to pray for God to enable me to release those who have hurt or offended me. This is where the previous request for daily bread takes on deeper spiritual meaning. Unless God had provided Jesus as the Bread of Sacrifice for our sin, no one could truly forgive another. We'd all be meting out our own vengeance.

God is merciful and just. I prefer His mercy in my own life, so why do I so often demand justice? When it comes to those who offend me, I want them to pay for the harm done, rather than have me forgive them.

What struggles do you face with forgiveness?

Monday, July 29, 2013

Need: A Lack of Something Requisite, Desirable or Useful

For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.
(John 6:33 NIV)

When we get to this familiar request in the Lord's prayer, we are halfway through the recitation. It is the most practical and basic of requests. Yet the surrounding thoughts feed through this request. 

We make our daily request based on the knowledge of God as our Father. We can depend on the promise of provision as it is His will to provide for us. And when He grants this request, we have everything we need to hallow His name and our lives. Once we have experienced His provision, we seek the deeper spiritual needs: asking for and offering forgiveness and requesting the way out of temptation.

The significance of this simple request becomes clearer, if you dig into the original language. When Jesus spoke, he used the local dialect--Aramaic. In Aramaic, this sentence translates roughly to this: "Give to us today, this very day, the bread of our need."

Bread is a basic staple of most diets. To meditate on the bread of our need, takes me back to the Old Testament and then directly to Christ as the fulfillment of the promise. In Old Testament worship, they placed the Bread of Presence on the altar before God. During the wandering desert days of the Israelites, God sent down b read (manna) from heaven to meet their daily need for sustenance.

Jesus is our our daily bread. The bread of our ultimate need is salvation. Jesus satisfies this need completely. To know Jesus is to have everything requisite, desirable and useful, in order to relate with our Father in heaven.

During the sacrament of communion, we eat bread to recall Jesus' broken body on the cross, broken on our behalf. A friend recently pointed out that the phrase, "Taste and see that the Lord is good," takes on a richer meaning for her, whenever she partakes of communion. As I put together her insight and the daily "breadness" of Jesus, I rejoiced in the goodness of God. The rest of the verse (Psalm 34:8) states: "Blessed is the one who takes refuge in him." I marveled at how these mixed metaphors of bread and refuge give me something more to chew on. 

To dwell within God's presence is our daily benefit. So by all means, let's ask "Give us this day our daily bread, our daily refuge, our daily need, our daily portion of goodness." 

What comes to mind, when you pray, 
"Give us this day our daily bread"? 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Hallow: To Make Holy

. . . simply concentrate on being completely devoted to Christ in your hearts. Be ready at any time to give a quiet and reverent answer to any man who wants 
a reason for the hope you have within you. 
(1 Peter 3:15-16)

Jesus directs us to venerate the name of the Father. Yet, there is so much more here than an old-fashioned word that we often translate as honor. To make God's name holy is synonymous with asking that His kingdom come. To acknowledge God's holiness is to admit our need for heavenly intervention. 

For any human to make God holy would be an absurd request. Jesus knows this, and so He asks us to make God's name holy, and again this borders on ludicrous, because God alone is holy. Amazingly, He offers us the privilege to represent His reputation.

His very name is part of our identity. Christians are Christ ones. Just as Jesus was sent into the world, we are sent into the world to "hallow" God's name and character in order to live a life that reflects His holiness and draws others to glorify Him. (Matthew 5:16)

Hallowing God's name is more than just praising Him with words and accolades, it is setting Him apart in our hearts as the one most worthy of honor and reverence. To revere God is more than just assent, it is actively responding and living out our faith. 

In the original language the impact of this word takes on a sense of action that I have often overlooked. I thought if I just proclaimed excellent things about God's name and character, then I must be hallowing His name. However, a deeper look at the origins of the word, require more than proclamation. Our lives must emulate our words.

Mounce's Expository Dictionary explains it this way: "This expression [hallowed be thy name] means not only to treat God and his name with reverence and honor but also to glorify him by obeying his commands." The essence of "reverence" used in this phrase is "specifically setting apart Jesus in our lives as Lord and honoring him as such."

Praying these familiar words take on new meaning, not just mere words to recite, but a call to obedience motivated by love for our holy and loving Father.

How are you "hallowing" God with your words and actions?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Teach: To Accustom to Some Action or Attitude

Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, 
and when he was finished, one of his disciples said, 
"Lord, teach us to pray . . ."
(Luke 11:1 ESV)

When I think of written prayer, the most famous one that comes to mind is "The Lord's Prayer." This prayer brings comfort to many around the world daily, as it is recited in unison. It is familiar to both religious and secular people.

In Luke's gospel the prayer is recorded as a response to one disciple's request: "Lord, teach us to pray."  The disciple made his request after he had witnessed Jesus praying. Jesus modeled prayer. And He gave us a written prayer to reference as a teaching guide. 

Each line is full of instruction and affirmation of what it means to pray, to ask in faith based on our relationship with God. This first phrase is full of love and belonging. Jesus doesn't teach us to pray to His father, but to our inclusive Father. 

He tells us where our Father dwells. He is of heaven, a place beyond us, yet the unseen One makes Himself known to us through His Son. And through this very Son invites us to beseech Him as Father. A Father who intimately loves us and knows our words before they even form on our tongue. 

To simply meditate on this one line of the prayer evokes the attitude of a contented child. To act upon this hope of heaven and to respond to the Father who loved us enough to send our eldest Brother to embody this truth, births in me a desire to love God.

No wonder the next line is "Hallowed be thy name!"

How does it feel to know that God is our Father? How does this truth affect your attitude or direct your actions?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Thrilling Guest Thursday: Jeanie Kelley

"I will never leave you nor forsake you."
(Jesus, Hebrews 13:5b)

Jesus is the faithful one, the good shepherd, who looks for us when we wander away. And a bright light in the dark, who draws us back to Him, when we've lost our bearings.

Thank you for joining us today, as my friend, Jeanie Kelley shares the faithfulness of Jesus, in her recent post titled,

When I was twelve years old I realized that I had a friend whose name was Jesus. He was a true friend since the "friends" I had at school ridiculed me and made fun of me and made my life miserable. I found Jesus right when I needed him. Right at my heart wanting to come in. (To read more click here.)

Monday, July 15, 2013

Ignite: To Set in Motion; Spark

The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!"
(Luke 17:5 NIV)

The cry of the apostles sums up my petition for myself these days. I need faith. Sometimes it is hard to believe God is good. Often life confuses and obscures what I think I want or need. Sometimes life feels downright unfair. Dark and gloomy doubts begin to whisper to me. And I begin to believe God doesn’t care after all.

This quote caused me to pause and think more deeply about God:

God is subtle, but he is not malicious.
 (Albert Einstein)

I am still mulling it over. It is obvious that God is not malicious, but how often my griping and complaining cloaks my fear that God may be ambivalent. To think of God as subtle brings me strange comfort.

When I make requests of God, I expect answers, because He promises them. But sometimes, the answers are nuanced in ways that leave me raw and wondering. Other times, I get it. I feel like I hear Him directing and saying, “That’s it! Go that way! You’re listening now!” But either way, He is present. And He wants me to know, He is near. He is with us.

A conversation with God can ignite a lot of questions. Crackling like a campfire, talking with God sets into motion more mystery than I can bear at times. I have to step away from Him, just like when I stand too near the blazing bonfire on a summer night to get some relief from the heat.

As the fire burns down, I move closer again and I’m comforted in the presence of the glowing embers. The sparks sputter into the sky, and I wonder whether God catches them in the dark. In the dark, our faith grows into more faith, settling our hearts with His warm embrace.

Spirit of God, spark our faith, hope and love into new action each day.
Fill our lives with wonder and awe in your presence . . . (Roman Catholic)

In what ways do you experience God as subtle?

Friday, July 12, 2013

Confidence: A Relation of Trust or Intimacy {Where I Reveal My Dream Come True}

But know that the LORD has set apart the faithful for himself;
the LORD hears when I call to him.
(Psalm 4:3 NRSV)

When I was a teenager, during a youth retreat we were encouraged to choose a name that would describe who we wanted to become. I chose the word, "confidence." I drew a key and wrote the word across it. Probably the first time I ever used a concordance to look up Scriptures. Under the listing, I remember reading: "The LORD is my confidence." (Proverbs 3:26a)

At that retreat was one of the first times I asked God for something for myself. I wanted Him to be my confidence, but also to make me more confident.

For many years I have been growing into that name. As I  was getting ready for a new venture today, God reminded me of that act of faith so many years ago. Back in May, through a series of God events, I took a step towards fulfilling a dream. This dream came to life today! I am calling this dream:
(Logo design created by Jessie Flori)

Souldare will be a place where people gather together to discover their created self through journaling, collage art and eventually, nature hikes accompanied by times of contemplative prayer.

What does this post have to do with my recent series on prayer? God hears when we call to him. And sometimes, the answer is revealed in stages, over the years. And sometimes, He uses that very request to increase our faith and confidence.

When I look at the word confidence, I think "with faith" or "with fidelity," which when applied to my life humbles me. To think that God would call me one of his faithful ones exalts his faithfulness. It indicates a depth of intimacy with God that has grown sweeter over the years.

What a joy it was today to witness others exploring and discovering their created selves through collage art and journaling. God was in our midst. I can't wait until next week to see how God reveals himself to us again.


A poem I read before I left to facilitate the workshop became another prayer for confidence:

Where fear imprisons, faith liberates;
Where fear paralyzes, faith empowers;
Where fear disheartens, faith encourages;
Where fear sickens, faith heals;
Where fear makes useless, faith makes beautiful;
Where fear puts hopelessness at the heart of life,
faith opens the windows on a new world,
a new life that knows no end.
(Father Philip Chester, as qtd by Jonathan Aitken in Prayers for People Under Pressure)

How is faith enabling you to overcome fears?What long forgotten request
is God answering today?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Raiment: Clothes; Garments

Behold, I have caused thine
iniquity to pass from thee,
and I will clothe thee
with change of raiment.
(Zechariah 3:4b KJV)


When we come to God with our sin, it is like exchanging filthy garments for fresh clean clothes. The word raiment has a beauty to it. It derives from the word “array,” which means “to set or place in order.” This describes accurately what happens when we come to God in confession.

Array often is associated with richness. Often it used to describe those who clothe themselves with ornate, luxurious robes. Several times in Scripture the metaphor of being clothed is used to describe our condition before God. When we “wear” Jesus, we gain a robe of righteousness, a garment of praise and a beautiful spirit of grace. Not only does God cleanse us from our sin, but He adorns us in His best qualities.

Another way to display God’s goodness in prayer is the practice of thanksgiving. Most people will agree that is easier to give thanks when life is going well, than when it’s full of trials and despair.

In Prayers for People Under Pressure, Jonathan Aitken admits, “ . . . although praying to God when our lives are going topsy-turvy is an almost impossible challenge, we should reflect of the argument for trying to do just that.” And while I agree that it is beneficial to thank God for the difficult things in our lives, as well as the benefits, today it occurred to me that I very rarely thank God for taking away my sin and for forgiving me for my many faults. When I think about it this way, I have something to be thankful for everyday.

When we find it difficult to be thankful, maybe we should pray one of these two prayers from renowned English bards:

O Lord, thou hast give so much to me;
give one thing more; a grateful heart. Amen.
(George Herbert, 1593-1633)

O Lord, that lends me life,
Lend me a heart replete with thankfulness.
(William Shakespeare, 1564-1616)

Linking up with Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood

Monday, July 8, 2013

Stop: To Cease Activity

Cease striving and know that I am God.
(Psalm 46:10 NASB)
"Stop, in the name of love...
before you break my heart."
(The Supremes)
When I was out running the other day, I saw a stop sign and the above lyrics started humming through my mind. God in His sweet way was asking me to stop sinning in my thought life, which inevitably seeps into my language and actions. To stop out of love for Him and because sin breaks His heart.
Once a month Dawn at Beneath the Surface: Breath of Faith and the Recovering Church Lady co-host, Random Journal Day, where we daringly pull a random journal off the shelf or pile and pick an entry to share with the group.

After reading a couple posts from this month, I made this connection between journaling and prayer: If you write prayers in a journal, you have a great resource for written prayers to glean insight from, as well as see how God has been transforming your life.
I pulled a journal from the summer of 2009. And the following confession made me feel vulnerable, but I wondered if others have had similar struggles and awareness. As I reread it, I recognized how much God has helped me overcome this recurring sin in my life.
Confession brings sin into the light. Once it is named, God gives me strength to move away from the sin, in order to stop operating under its influence. The ability to turn away from sin is a supernatural ceasing.
Here's the confession, I came upon in my journal from August 2, 2009:
I admit that I do give my tongue free rein to say hurtful things--judgmental things. My tongue frames deceit-- I lie about myself and make up motives for others. I wrongly accuse. I try to put words in their mouths. I confess that I justify my slander by thinking that I am evaluating or assessing or problem solving.
O God, guard my tongue. Let me be silent rather than foolishly harm others. Purify my heart and tongue. How can I praise you one moment and tear down those you love the next. I am wretched.
Forgive me, most of all, for believing or thinking that You, the Most High and Holy One could even think or evaluate others the way I do. Let me worship you in holiness. Keep my lips from sinning.
Thank you for not remaining silent, O God Most High. Thank you for speaking to me about my tongue. For rebuking me in love. I accept the charges. I am guilty of slander, lies and wickedness in my heart, words and actions. Help me to think more highly of your beloved children.
Instead of slander, I offer praise, accolades, value and welcome. Why do I slander others? Because I doubt my own value. I want to keep the focus off my own shortcomings. I want to feel superior.
Father God, forgive me . . .
It is a rough thing to look into the mirror and see my grisly face, but it is also a beautiful thing because then our Gentle Healer can wipe away the debris and clean the wounds and bind us up with His mercy.
What kind of prayers do you write in your journal? Do you think written prayer is necessary or useful? Why or why not?
Linking up with Random Journal Day

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Wake: A Track or Path Left

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
(Psalm 23:6 KJV)

The psalms are full of prayer language. The last verse of Psalm 23 has been following me around all week, begging to be mentioned today. One time a good friend of mine told me, that if she had two dogs, she would name them "mercy" and "goodness," then mercy and goodness would be following her wherever she went.
This week as Psalm 23:6 kept hounding me, I wondered how often I leave mercy and goodness behind as I walk out the days of my life. I am not always successful, but God always covers up my tracks with His mercy and goodness. 
How about you?
What are you leaving in your wake?
Linking up with:
Still Saturday and The Sunday Community

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Room: Opportunity or Scope for Something


Answer me when I call, O God of my right!
    You gave me room when I was in distress.
    Be gracious to me, and hear my prayer.
(Psalm 4:1 NRSV)
The more I think about prayer, the more questions surface in my heart. What is the purpose of prayer? Is prayer something to practice or is it practicing the presence of God? Does prayer change things or does it change me?
In reading Psalm 4 today, the opening verse sheds some light on my quandary. God can be trusted to bring about right in my life. He listens. He answers. He enlarges my perspective when I am in distress. Just being in His presence is grace. When I make prayer more than an entrance into His presence, I lose sight of the purpose of prayer—communion.
God makes room for me. He invites me to empty myself, to recognize my nothingness in light of His all-ness. He offers me various opportunities to express my love to Him. The capacity of God staggers me. And His very being thrills me like a spacious room. To be empty is to make space for God’s fullness.
Here’s an emptying prayer from early church history:
Sever me from myself that I may be grateful to you;
may I perish to myself that I may be safe in you;
may I die to myself that I may live in you;
may I wither to myself that I may blossom in you;
may I be emptied of myself that I may abound in you;
may I be nothing to myself that I may be all to you.
                                             (Desiderius Erasmus, 1466-1536)
What is the purpose of prayer in your life?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Confess: Acknowledge or Admit



Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
(John 15:4-5 NKJV)

I confess that prayer can be ambiguous for me at times. I have read books on the topic. I was trained through an excellent ministry to pray through four steps: Praise, Confess, Give Thanks, and Intercede. The question has been posed to me whether it is more important to praise or confess sin as a starting point in prayer. I don’t really know the answer, but the question intrigues me.

For the month of July, I will be exploring the above question and others like it. I will share thoughts from others who have explored prayer personally, as well as offer written prayers from various sources and then end each post with a question to contemplate.

In Elizabeth Basset’s anthology, Love is My Meaning, she has collected several prayers and teachings on prayer in one volume. I found her book through another anthology on prayer by Jonathan Aitken titled Prayers for People Under Pressure. I will lean heavily on their works to add flavor to the offerings here this month.

In Love is My Meaning, Basset offers this teaching on prayer from C. R. Bryant, S.S.J.E. (The Bible and Meditation):

“The act of faith is more than a bare statement of belief; it is a turning to face the living God. Perhaps the simplest way to make it is to address God as present, telling Him what you believe about Him: “Lord God, you made us, you know us, you love us; you are in me, sustaining me, guiding me, correcting me.” The prayer of adoration is an act of faith of a special kind, in which we declare the infinite greatness of God and our own nothingness by comparison. As there can be no genuine prayer without faith, the act of faith which begins prayer underlies all the prayer which follows.”

Bryant offers us the same dilemma; does our confession of God’s greatness follow our declaration of nothingness or vice versa? My experience has been that these two acts of faith, adoration and confession go hand in hand.

St. Augustine, in his autobiography, Confessions, penned this beautiful prayer of adoration:

“O God, my joy, my glory and my confidence. Highest, best, most mighty; most far and yet most near; fairest and yet strongest; fixed yet incomprehensible; unchanging yet the author of all change; never new, ever old; O Lord, I love thee!”

The paradox of God’s character can confuse us; however the infinite beauty of God causes one true response. When we allow ourselves the leisure to bask in His intricate personality, we find that the only thing we can confess is “O Lord, I love thee!”
Which confession are you most
likely to make first:
"I am nothing."
"God is everything!"
Linking up with Soli Deo Gloria Party




Monday, July 1, 2013

Delight: Extreme Satisfaction; Joy

Keep company with God,
    get in on the best.
(Psalm 37:4 The Message)
Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you your heart’s desires.
(Psalm 37:4 NLT)
Last month filled my heart with great satisfaction. I kept company with God with my nieces and nephews. We had quiet, creative mornings and fun-filled afternoons. We met with friends and we stayed home.
My favorite memory of the month was introducing them to the idea of meeting with Jesus in their heart room. My sister gave us a book of meditations to read over the month. Most mornings after breakfast, we gathered in the quiet corner and contemplated some object that introduced us to an aspect of God's love and presence in our lives.
We imagined a kite flying freely in the sky, and then we thought about how God holds us secure, yet allows us to express ourselves freely. How the presence of the Holy Spirit sustains us and thrills us as we soar in God's loving care.
One day we recalled the birth of Jesus. Then we contemplated the cross and the pain He suffered on our behalf. The next day we celebrated His triumph over death. We remembered His sacrifice with the bread and with the cup.
Our days together ended with a loss. During our last week together, our dear dog, age fourteen, became feebler. Each child responded in their own way, when we told them she had died. We cried and talked about her life, and my youngest niece led us in a meaningful memorial time by burying Milli's collar and play toy in the garden.
What delight children and pets bring to our lives. I am grateful for the time we had together, both the highs and lows of the month. As we go into July, I have prayer on my heart.
Sometimes I find it difficult to pray. At those times I am drawn to the written prayers of others. Last week, also marked the death of a dear family friend. She lived far from us, and I am thankful for the years we were able to visit with her the past several summers. Over the years my family and I enjoyed Mary's company and her hospitality, whenever we came in to town for a visit.
Here is a prayer for those who love her and miss her:
Almighty God, Father of all mercies and giver of all comfort, deal graciously we pray as we mourn, casting all our care on Thee, knowing the consolation of Thy love; through Christ Jesus Our Lord.
(Book of Common Prayer 1928, adapted)