BENDED KNEE AND BREATHLESS THE HOW, WHAT AND WHY OF PRAYER
Doug Blair, C. 2012 Waterloo, Canada
The Closet Again to be here When none other might care. Be the motive of fear Or of gratitude rare. I will run to this space Just to unload my heart; Yes a quieter place Set a little apart. And You come through the gray In the brilliance of love And You settle the day With Your calm from above. And You hear, I am sure Every plea, every verse. A compassion so pure Will consider my worst, And will answer again Lest I misunderstand; Neither mishap nor men Will remove from Thy Hand. Father, this is the spot Where I grow on my knees; See what mercy has wrought; Feel the Spiritâ€™s fresh breeze.
Rock Wall In retreat I felt a shadow at my back. Lesser space To dodge oppressers in attack. Weapons drawn
And creeping forward for the kill. Spirit drained And having lost all strength of will, I hit the wall. But this stone Had little ridges for ascent. Nothing left But to cling tight, so up I went. Gaining there A truer view of all my woes. Smaller now From perch of peace, seemed all my foes. This wall was prayer.
Supplications, 1916 We muster at six Over the rise And away from this muck. Wet, bored, infected feet Many of us. The Huns will not expect The barrage That clears the way. Frenchies to the rear Let it all fly. A wake-up alarm Of showered earth, Bombastic And broken bodies. Dear Lord, Iâ€™m scared; Yet strangely Ready for this.
Be with my mates. Deflect the bullets. You’ve probably seen All the foolishness, Heard the cursing, Smelled the hate. But love us anyway As the Good Book Says you do. Funny, I’ll bet someone Across “No-Man’s” Prays just the same.
Touching the Hem
You need to get down low and point yourself in the direction in which He is traveling. Disregard the looks or comments of others. This is your time and you sense somehow that Jesus is making Himself available. Others have suggested different means of rescue. You refuse to be distracted. Your past successes now seem to count for nothing. The voices in
the crowd diminish and you are now hanging upon the expectation of One Voice. And He says it, “Who touched me?” And you yearn to say, “Oh I did, merciful Son of God. Can’t you see this mess; can’t you intervene and make it all stop? Is there no relief?” But instead you snivel and appear all wet and pathetic. No matter. His eyes have connected with yours and now the words seem somehow redundant. He does see. HE DOES CARE. Something is changing. It is all of his delightful mercy. Never a request for credentials or creeds. Note: Artist Ron DiCianni has done it again masterfully. And here the woman reaching is one of our own time.
Gutsy Prayer "Pastor, teach us to pray." The two young couples approached Eugene Peterson in absolute earnest. They felt that their prayers were awkward, insincere, imitative, short and ineffectual. "Why don't you take a good look at the Psalms. King David was a man who knew how to pray. He covered most of the situations that you will face. Study his approach." Weeks passed and the Pastor heard no more, but then a somewhat apologetic knock at the door of his study. "It doesn't seem to be helping, sir. The King James language seems so archaic and foreign. We cannot get at the heart of David through it all." 'Well friends, said Peterson, 'that is unfortunate because those prayers were really quite visceral, frank, elemental and unrestrained. If David were ticked off he let God know. If desperate he hollered out for help. If joyful, the very heart-strings sang. Perhaps I might attempt a paraphrase of a couple of them to break the ice for you.'
Thus began the much celebrated paraphrase of the entire Bible which we now recognize as "The Message". Those young couples discovered a prayer life which was spontaneous, honest, unvarnished and delightfully personal. They were coming closer to God's heart. Hearing from Him. Pleading in ways consistent with His will. Becoming angry where He was angry. Chuckling at the things that humoured Him. Delighting over His victories. It took for them the vernacular and street-wise which Peterson had incorporated into his texts. At a time of personal crisis, and not too long ago, I found myself examining Peterson's text and walking dark streets, yelling out at God in very direct terms about the need. He was not offended. He visited me. He settled me. He gave me fresh courage. The answers came later...
The Girdle of Truth Holy Father, we humbly pray Thee to reveal unto us the unsearchable riches of Christ. Refine our discernments in order that we may behold them; and deepen our hearts in order that we may long to possess them. Unveil to us our poverty so that we may seek Thy wealth. Lead us through meekness and penitence to the reception of spiritual power. May our loins be girt about with truth. May we drink deeply at the waters of promise and find refreshment in immediate duty. We pray that Thou wilt bind us together in the bonds of holy sympathy. Help us to gather up the needs of others in common intercession. Make us ready to bear the burden of the race. Quicken our imaginations in order that we may enter into the sorrows of Thy children in every land. We humbly pray Thee to steady our faith in these days of bewilderment. In all the confusion of our time may we never lose sight of Thy throne. In all the obscuring of our ideals may we never lose sight of Christ. And O, Lord, out of our disorder may we be led into larger
ways. Let Thy Holy Spirit brood over us, quickening all that is full of sacred promise, and destroying all that hinders our friendship with Thee. Amen. John Henry Jowett, 1916,The Whole Armour of God
Liberate Your Prayers They need it And I know it And you’re more Than can be fathomed With the answer Just a simple prayer Away. I lob it To the Heavens With an awkward Pitch and wind-up But I haven’t met These folks for whom I pray. Seems pointless; Names just mentioned And a hapless List of troubles; But I know it’s Your compassion Anyway.
Jesus, If You’re Real… Cindy clicked on the light in the apartment hallway. Crystal clung to her shoulder like a little rag doll. 7
The evening with Sandy and Barb at the Advent service had been just what she had hoped for her child. Lots of colour, music, happy faces, and those wonderful stained glass windows all around. At the coffee shop afterward, Crystal had chattered non-stop about the friendly kids, the little craft project and the story of the shepherds. Down in the parking lot they had thanked their new friends profusely for the outing. Quick the unravelling. Quick the don of nighty. And with the good night kiss, the moaning, mumbled words: "Mom, I wish it wasn't over." Lights out. Cindy settled in the big arm chair in the living room. Shoes kicked off. Lights on the little three foot "snow covered" Christmas tree. All else silent but the echoes of festive hymns registering in her memory. And then Barb's comment about the Christ being "born in us" for the asking. Was it all just sentimentalism? Had she been too tired from work to receive the evening in a balanced way? She couldn't shake the fascination. In the silence of her litle apartment, she began to have the impression that someone was listening. Her thoughts shifted to the Bible reading, which the elderly gentleman, the retired teacher, had shared: "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness 8
from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this." How incredible! This baby...Mighty God, Prince of peace, David's throne. For so many years, out of the church, the whole season had been a blur of Bing Crosby, Charles Dickens, coffee shop windows, harried shoppers and a continued sense of missing the big event. But tonight she had met a few people who were honestly and evidently in love with Jesus as a present fact and friend. Alone in her living room, but still sensing a Listener, she began to cry quietly and without tears. "Jesus, if you're real, would you please come to me, help me, forgive me for ignoring you. Get us through this battle." Real business was in process. New life was flickering...
Ask and Ask Again Psalm 107 is one of my favourites. Many types of deliverances or rescues are described -from homelessness, hunger, captivity, illness, storms, natural disasters, barren land, rough waters, oppression, loneliness. The list seems endless and one is given the impression that God does not tire of our requests, but rather delights in them. Do we ever get the impression in prayer that God is close, saying, "Go ahead, ask me for more. Display again your dependence and trust. And when you ask remember Who takes up the larger share of the burden."
It is more than likely that we see Him like some handy and available neighbour with the tools and skills, but who, we fear, sets a limit to the favours to be rendered or the equipment to be borrowed. Listen to Charles Spurgeon's introduction to this psalm in "The Treasury of David": "This is a choice song for the redeemed of the Lord (Ps 107:2). Although it celebrates providential deliverances, and therefore may be sung by any man whose life has been preserved in time of danger; yet under cover of this, it mainly magnifies the Lord for spiritual blessings, of which temporal favours are but types arid shadows. The theme is thanksgiving, and the motives for it. The construction of the psalm is highly poetical, and merely as a composition it would be hard to find its compeer among human productions. The bards of the Bible hold no second place among the sons of song." For verse 6: "Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble. Not till they were in extremities did they pray, but the mercy is that they prayed then, and prayed in the right manner, with a cry, and to the right person, even to the Lord. Nothing else remained for them to do; they could not help themselves, or find help in others, and therefore they cried to God. Supplications which are forced out of us by stern necessity are none the less acceptable with God; but, indeed, they have all the more prevalence, since they are evidently sincere, and make a powerful appeal to the divine pity. Some men will never pray till they are half starved, and for their best interests it is far better for them to be empty and faint than to be full and stouthearted. If hunger brings us to our knees it is more useful to us than feasting; if thirst drives us to the fountain it is better than the deepest draughts of worldly joys; and if fainting leads to crying it is better than the strength of the mighty, And he delivered them out of their distresses. Deliverance follows prayer most surely. The cry must have been very feeble, for they were faint, and their faith was as weak as their cry; but yet they were heard, and heard at once. A little delay would have been their death: but there was none, for the Lord was ready to save them. The Lord delights to come in when no one else can be of the slightest avail. The case was hopeless till Jehovah interposed, and then all was changed immediately; the people were shut up, straitened, and almost pressed to death, but enlargement came to them at once when they began to remember their God, and look to him in prayer. Those deserve to die of 10
hunger who will not so much as ask for bread, and he who being lost in a desert will not beg the aid of a guide cannot be pitied even if he perish in the wilds and feed the vultures with his flesh." 43Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the LORD.
A Prayer Out of You It was January of 1998. I was relaxing at close of day. Thoughts were not all that organized, but mood was mellow. Perhaps a little scripture had been read, but it escapes me now. And then, quite disconnected with anything else, words came with power to my inner self. I felt a compulsion to speak them out audibly. Imagine prophecy of a sort spoken to oneself: “Until I make a prayer out of you, you will amount to little in the Kingdom of God.” I paused for a moment and then quite frankly responded, “Well I’m glad Lord that you used the word ‘until’ rather than the word ‘unless’.” Then I heard it again. It registered as a deeply intimate moment of hope. Now what had He meant? That I should get busy praying with greater frequency and fervour, preparing my heart first with a session of waiting. That would be plain enough. Or was something drastically different intended? That my life itself should become a prayer. Full of need, petition, pauses, intercession, vulnerability, dependence for the most basic of things. All of that seemed much too drastic for the male ego; the preference being for a sense of control with numerous valid contributions to be made. But as the years have gone on, I believe that the Lord did have the second rendering in mind. Times of perceived destitution in spirit have been the doorway to the greatest revelations of my God, the greatest closeness of His majesty and caring Heart, the greatest clarity of direction. They stand out as some of my richest milestones.
I am reminded of Paul’s words in the 3rd chapter of Philippians that he yearned for the “fellowship of his (Christ’s) sufferings” (verse 10). I can only exhort the reader to look for spiritual currency when the dark times come. Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5: 3)
In the Olive Press Still sleeping? Friends and brothers? Though you were to watch with me, And to share in this prayer garden What the others might not see. Still sleeping? Simon Peter? Coarse and headstrong at your best. But beneath it all a leader Who will one day meet the test. Still sleeping? Sons of Thunder? Did you not once ask the seat At my right hand in the Kingdom? But you doze now at my feet. Yes, sleeping, As I watch you Like a parent in the night Checking children's needful slumber, Trusting they will be alright. Sleep on now...
There is comfort, Strangely getting me prepared, As I smile now in recalling All the glorious times we shared. Sleep on now. What I do here Will first bring you grief and gloom; But the dark must yield to daylight. I will leave an empty tomb! Sleep on now. Dear disciples. I have loved you from the start. And have shared the Father's vision, And have given you my heart. Enough now. Time to rally! Waken brethren. Watch me stand. I am ready for the offering. My betrayer is at hand.
Note: Gethsemane translates "olive press". That the oil might come...
Escape From the Kingâ€™s Jail This is what the church lawn sign said as I left the coffee shop early this morning. Coincidentally, I had just been reading Acts 12 and the story of Peter's miraculous escape from Herod's jail with the help of an angel. Fetters fall off. Guards remain stupefied. Doors swing open. A dark city street hides the fugitive.
Peter makes his way to the house of John Mark's mother where Christians have been gathered in serious prayer for his release. But when the young woman Rhoda comes to the front door and hears Peter's voice from outside, she can hardly believe her ears and retreats briefly to the inner room. Supposedly there wasn't monumental faith in that place for his deliverance, but there was earnest supplication...begging. And that so often is what successful prayer is all about. Crying out from the heart, inarticulately. Psalm 50 by Asaph suggests that God is not after religion and fancy approaches. He says simply, 'Call out to me when you are in trouble. I will deliver you and you will glorify me.' One of my favourite films is "Finding Forrester" starring Sean Connery. A reclusive one-time novelist has befriended a college age athlete with a penchant for writing. He agrees to offer tutoring. In one scene the two are side by side in the musty apartment, each with a typewriter. The old Scot is busy clacking. The youth has paused with hand to his chin. The comment is made, "Don't think...write!". It would be through the enthusiastic production of words on the paper that the boy would gradually learn the art and efficiency of the craft. Perhaps it could also be said, "Don't think...pray!" It says at one point in Zechariah 12 that we are helped by the "spirit of grace and supplications". Nothing sophisticated.
Lord, Teach Us to Pray The disciples marveled at the Master's night-long absences in prayer. He would return seemingly rested the next dawn and prepared with that relaxed calm for any eventuality. They had only seen scholarly rabbis approach a degree of confidence anywhere close. But they had always couched their
pronouncements with the support of precedent. "Rabbi X would say this." "Or Rabbi Y would argue that." But Jesus would give a description of the Father's outlook on some issue, and then add, "And I say unto you, thus and so..." Surely this boldness had come about after much serious and complicated formulaic prayer, or so they thought. I remember a book by the evangelist Mel Tari suggesting how very relaxed, honest and intimate Jesus' prayers must have been (The Gentle Breeze of Jesus). Any father loves the time when a child crawls up onto his lap, just to be there, just to express his heart. The Father, by gesture or by simple affectionate word, will impart wisdom and comfort which will have magnified effect in this atmosphere of love. Jesus' model prayer, called the Lord's Prayer, was more an impression of reverence and humble familial trust than it was a piece to be memorized. It's essentials, the unfolding Kingdom, the keeping care of the Father, the humble submission of the child, the mutual pact of forgiveness, the irrepressible plan for the Father's glory. Jesus held repetitive, formulaic prayer in low esteem. Rather it should be simple, from the heart, direct in choice of words and filled with intervals of listening, of waiting for the Father's input. Look at some of the other successful prayers in the Bible. Jehoshaphat preparing for battle, "Lord we don't know what to do; nevertheless our eyes are upon you" (2 Chronicles 20:12). The silent inarticulate prayers of Hannah mourning in the temple over her barrenness (1 Samuel 1: 11-17). The cry for healing of blind Bartimaeus, "Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me" (Mark 10:46-48). The worship of the one repentent thief at Calvary, "Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom." (Luke 23:42). Simple...all simple and heartfelt. A drawing close with delight to the loving attentiveness of Divinity. And oh yes, Christians pray. They pray often.
Compassionate Prayer A few summers ago I was approached by two men at my workplace who were confronted with weighty issues needing prayer. The one a diagnosis of cancer. The other a wife trying for the third time to bring a baby to full term. They wanted another to know the facts, to be in their corner, to offer up prayer. I learned later that they each had church communities busy in prayer, although of very different traditions. In a couple of months both men brought praise reports back to me. I shared in their joy, giving credit to Jesus. Later at an assignment out in our steel yard, I was alone with time for private thoughts. I thanked the Lord for undertaking for my friends. In my spirit I heard the words, "It was significant that you prayed, and prayed with compassion." "Yes Lord, it was heartfelt. But I knew those fellows. I had a vested interest. It seemed easy to get my shoulders under it." "Oh, if you would only pray more. What you might one day learn about how Heaven was moved. Lives changed forever. Even thanks being offered by total strangers." "But Lord if the power is in compassion, how can I muster that for the stranger? It just doesn't seem to come. In corporate prayer at a church gathering some need of a stranger is voiced by another, and I just sit there like a log of indifference." "Doug, I am asking you to agree with me in prayer in such situations. I have the vested interest, the compassion, the power to comfort and to heal. Just pray. As you come to know me more, I will release more of myself." Matthew 14: 14And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with
compassion toward them, and he healed their sick. Churches, where are the patient seasons of compassionate prayer, the Jesus focused study, the Jesus focused giving of thanks, the Jesus focused singing, the Jesus focused message of hope to strangers? Victory comes in no other way.
With Father in the School of Prayer You have come to me with questions, And I’m glad that you have come, And I will provide the answers in a while. And I’m pleased with you for waiting, And I’m pleased with you for trusting; And I know that you are growing through this trial. You have come to me in peril, And I’m glad that you have come, And I will dispatch the angels to your aid. And the Enemy will flee now, And the skeptics all will see now, And your victory of faith will be displayed. You have come to me for cleansing, And I’m glad that you have come, And I know that your repentance is sincere. Find relief in your confessing, While the tears bring special blessing; I forgive you; once again the slate is clear. You have come to me for guidance, And I’m glad that you have come, And I will disclose the way that you should go. For you know that I am Wisdom,
And my perfect law is freedom, And in walking in obedience, you will know. You have come to me requesting, And I’m glad that you have come, And I fully see the needs that you now face. All the olive, grain and wine, All the silver, gold are mine; And the gifts will come, according to my grace. You have come to me for loving, And I’m glad that you have come, As I gently draw you to this Father’s breast. And I cover you with peace now, And I give you love’s release now, And you know that in our loving there is rest. You have come to me for others, And I’m glad that you have come, For the Spirit laid this burden on your heart. And you’re groaning for each neighbour, Pleading for them my sweet favour, You are learning now the intercessor’s art. You have come to me with praises, And I’m glad that you have come, And it blesses me to hear you lift my Name. As you focus on my story, You will touch my grace and glory, You will know now and forever I’m the same. You have come to me in spirit, And I’m glad that you have come, And I know you utter things too deep to tell. As you speak in other tongues, child, Let the Spirit use your lungs, child, By the Spirit’s interceding, all is well. You have come to me in silence, And I’m glad that you have come, 18
And I smile as you are kneeling at my feet. Are you seeking out my will? Are you stablished, strong and still? Oh, this prayer time with you, child, has been so sweet!
Hand of Christ Last night was an extraordinary night with men at the church. Following our study and discussion the night was closed with prayer, and the subject of my Father's funeral came up. At one point I prayed and expressed my heart's desire that Monday would be a suitable tribute and thanksgiving concerning Dad, and that my Mom would receive a blessing and a comfort. She has been grieving and fretting. All very hard for an eighty-four year old. I began to weep in the prayer, and weep heavily. Some of the men got up from their seats and placed hands of comfort and agreement upon my shoulders and back. The prayer continued. One by one they went back to their seats until it seemed to me that only one hand remained. I finally opened my eyes to realize that at the last there had been no one at my side although the pressure on my shoulder had continued. A voice within suggested "hand of Christ". The impression then continued, "The hand of Christ had been on your person since the men had first touched you." 19
That is fellowship, friends! That is Body life. Meekly bringing the Lord into our midst as we gather. Extending hands, hearts and voices for Him. Who knows what may develop?
The Prayer Promise (Taken from Come Ye Apart by J. R. Miller)
“Every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened..” Matthew 7:8 These are very positive promises, and yet they must be read intelligently, in the light of other scriptures which explain and qualify the words. It is not all asking that receives; for there is asking that is not true prayer. Some ask merely in word, with no real desire in their hearts. Some ask selfishly, that they may consume the divine gift on their lusts. Some ask rebelliously, without submission to the will of God. Some ask without faith, not expecting any answer. Some ask indolently, not ready to do their own part. Some ask ignorantly for things which would not be blessings if they were granted. It is very clear that in these cases those who ask will not receive. So not literally all who seek find. The seeking must be earnest. There is a remarkable word in one of the old prophets: “Ye shall seek me, and find Me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” The seeking must also be for good things. If our quest is for sinful things, or for worldly good, that would work in us spiritual harm, God will not give us what we seek. Then we must live right. “No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” The thing itself must be good; and we must walk in paths of obedience, or there is no promise of reward for our quest. In like manner it is not to all knocking that God opens the door. There are timid knocks that indicate neither desire nor faith, as when mischievous children ring a doorbell and then run away, not wanting to enter. It is when we knock at the right door, and knock with expectancy and faith and 20
importunity, that the door is graciously opened. Thus in interpreting this wonderful prayer-promise we must read into the words their true meaning. The asking, seeking, knocking, must be true prayer.
Prayer Principles (Not Formulae) In an uncommon book on prayer entitled Praying Beyond God's Ability, Dr. Roy Hicks Sr. has made some significant points. Looking at the model prayer given by Jesus to His disciples he sees that the whole venture toward God is to be enveloped in worship. "Hallowed be Thy Name....For Thine is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory..." Only as we worship and focus on the almightiness of God shall we come into the right atmosphere. The alternative is a focus on "I" and "Me" and a list of pressing personal needs. A small circumference for prayer indeed. Next "Thy will be done". When we settle in His presence and ascertain His will on a matter we come into real victory ground. Remember how in Psalm 37 David tells us to delight ourselves in the Lord and He will give us the desires of our hearts. Have we seen in this process how our heart has become His heart? Will He not succeed? "Give us this day our daily bread". Jesus here envisions all sustenance, physical and spiritual. Have we consistently chosen to feed on the good stuff? Scripture? Meditation? Dialogue with brothers and sisters in the faith? And do we do it regularly (daily) without panic for what is in store weeks from now? "Forgive ...as we forgive those who have trespassed against us." Nothing shuts down the halls of prayer faster than bitterness, self-pity and unforgiveness. Rise above these clouds and develop practices of mercy, equity and charity. And do it where you live. That in most instances is your appointed field of service. "Deliver us from evil". With this request the sheep knows that the shepherd is on the job. The sheep may go about his day without anxiety, wolf 21
notwithstanding. "For thine is the Kingom, the Power and the Glory forever..." We are in His Kingdom at this moment with jobs to be done in His strength. Intercession to be raised. Praise and thanksgiving to be offered to bless the Most High. Happy partners in deliverance and comfort. Distributors of the Bread of Life. "So be it!" (Amen") Let us remember also that no prayer is to become a mantra, vain repetition. The power is not in formulaic words or stubborn confessions. Rather it is in meek obedience to the principles behind the words, principles which get hold of the very heart of God.
Sanctuary Stranger Ryan, the priest-novitiate nudged his superior in the arm and pointed to a pew mid-way down the sanctuary on the right side. "There he is again. Same time almost every day. Looks around and then just sits there for about twenty minutes. Sort of a seamy looking character. I wonder if he means well? Remember the recent thievery?" Monseigneur quietly examined the old fellow in the dwindling late afternoon light. Quiet surroundings. Votive candles flickering nearby. Archie practicing some Bach on the organ up front. Nothing to worry about. Just sitting there. Head slightly bowed. Old tweed overcoat. Peaked winter cap in hand... The two men went on to other matters. But then the simple visitor stopped showing. One day in a hospital visitation, Ryan had left a parishioner's bedside and was headed for the elevator when he noticed the old fellow propped up in a bed in a four-patient ward room. He yielded to the temptation to drop in for a short visit.
After introductions he learned that "Patrick", a retired machinist and widower, had been in for about eight days following a surgical procedure of some complexity. There followed some small talk about children and grandchildren in distant cities and Patrick's interests and pass times in retirement. Finally curiosity brought Ryan around to the subject of the elder's daily church stops. "Oh that's really quite simple. I love the feel of the place. The quiet. The Gospel pictures. The courtesy. The candles. Any music is a bonus. My wife periodically came to St. Mark's. I didn't. But now I come to pray." "If you don't mind my asking, what sorts of prayers do you lift up. I'm a great student of prayer." "Not much I guess. I sit down. Settle myself. Think of Heaven. Think of the many good things that have come my way. Think of ways to improve. Remember some friends. Quietly, I say something like, 'Hello Jesus, it's Patrick'. Then I wait for about ten more minutes. That's all." A few more tid-bits were exchanged. Then the handshake. The departure. But Ryan had resolved to pay another visit soon. The opportunity came the following Monday. On the seventh floor at the nurse's station, Ryan thought to stop and inquire about the patient's progress. He was told,"That Patrick is remarkable. Never a complaint. Always a hopeful glimmer in his eyes. Pleasant sense of humour. Often able to get the other patients in his room talking about something interesting. A real treat." Bedside, Ryan brought up the nurse's good report to the mysterious man. "Oh, that's all thanks to my visitor. He comes at break of day and stands at the end of my bed. I have always been an early riser. This hospital isn't going to change that. Expect to be out of here in three more days." "You have a regular visitor?" "Yep, Jesus." "Are you serious?" 23
"No kidding, Ryan, it has been wonderful. Standing right there. Just as plain as you are." "And what does He say?" "For a while He just smiles at me, but then, "Hello Patrick, its Jesus."
A Soul in Peril Father, I pray for this dear man. He sees no need for your great plan. He little cares about our Jesus; Lives his life just as he pleases. Nothing shakes his self-reliance, Though it is but God-defiance.. When I try to share the Gospel, He just thinks it quite impossible, That a life without gross scandal Will be lost without Christâ€™s mantle. In his business, he is honest. In his family he is so blessed. How can this fine civic hero Be convinced that he scores zero On your scale of righteous worth? Will you interrupt his mirth? Will you show his blackened heart? Will you pull his pride apart? Sad to say, he does partake Of a church you didnâ€™t make. One which states that all find Heaven. One admitting worldly leaven. One where new birth truth is missing. One which makes the Cross a trite thing. 24
Please, dear Lord, assign your Spirit; Show him Hell, and make him fear it. Show him how in Adam’s fall, Sin crept into one and all. Sin, which exalts selfish purpose, Sin, which renders good deeds worthless. I believe that by your Spirit You will make his conscience hear it. Interrupt his treadmill days. Show him scripture, power, praise! Plant a hunger, Lord, for your best. Over-rule his vain success quest. He is frightened to examine The extent of his faith’s famine. He distrusts what still confounds him. Show him how your love surrounds him. How your dear Son’s blood sufficed. How to find his life in Christ. Precious Father, I can say naught, How his pardon must be blood-bought. He suspects my motives are wrong; So I pray to see him made strong. On my knees, I plead his case. Humble him, and show him grace.
Upward Thought Received Thank you Lord. I just wanted an arrival Of that last thought At Your Station.
I always enjoy this Early morning walk to The part-time job. Weather notwithstanding, These thirty minutes Hold treasure. As householders Pull back curtains. Cardinals lilt From crimson-crested trees. Aging leaves rustle. They too are awake. Garbage bags await The roaring carriage. Backyard dogs Yap out their territory. The thought was not Of self- congratulation For any of the list Of small victories. It was not Of pain or perplexity, As in other walks. When You Gave Yourself Long before rescue. It was not consistent With fuzzy Sun-rise musings. Plans for the day. Insults not yet forgiven. It leapt skyward Giddily, unprecedented, Thankful For Your constant Caring Eye. Humbled by Your willingness To drop by.
Landing a Punch On Cancer Some time ago I wrote a post entitled "Large Requests of God". I had had a discussion with a customer at our grocery store about the situation faced by her son's girlfriend. A tumour in the brain disabling the young woman from her teaching career. Right there in the aisle, I offered a prayer with her and a short note of encouragement on a piece of cardboard for her convalescing friend. This Saturday the customer appeared again and caught my attention to tell me that the cancer was in some form of remission and the girl was persevering. The young woman had wanted to thank me for the brief prayer and note, and to acknowledge the comfort received by the fact that someone was out there praying. I have never met the young teacher. I have a passion to wrestle with cancer and the paralyzing fear which it causes.(experiences with clients, my dad's Aunt Edith, my Dad, my one-time next-door neighbour, my factory workmate Bob, a respected judge back in Chatham, my father-in-law...the list goes on). It is interesting to use the little search engine in this blog to examine the words "cancer, tumour" and to see the number of entries and different stories. Admittedly I haven't prayed in a while for the young woman, but here was the customer again saying thank you, good news, don't stop. Tells me how little I realize about the power of prayer simply and earnestly offered by "whosoever" in the name of Jesus. Get at it Doug!
Help to a New Believer Congratulations you have found the pearl of great price! Culture a thankful heart. God didn’t have to take the blinders off, but He did for reasons best known to Him. Do not be in too much of a hurry to explain your discoveries to unsaved friends or family. You need time to solidify. You need grounding in the scriptures. Because of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit you have a newfound capability to discover life, order and hope in the Bible. Focus on the Gospels, particularly Luke. It is more to receive an impartation of the life of Jesus into your spirit, than it is a matter of education. We don’t “learn the Christian life” as much as we receive life from Jesus as a governing dynamic. It is more about impartation than imitation. Although Church attendance is helpful, a good “round-table talk” regimen with a few trusted friends of faith will progress you more resolutely at this point. A good book for you to get is The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey. In your prayer times speak naturally and pause often to determine whether the Lord is whispering something back to you. Your spirit will know when this occurs and you will probably receive some suggestion of a scripture or two to back things up. Prayer is not just a matter of keeping your own jaw flapping.
Hero Every thought of Him An act of worship. Every look upon That unseen face 28
A study of calm Compassion and courage. The face marred more Than any man’s, Taking barbs And spittle in the streets. Pressing onward To Destiny’s Hill. Dreading it. Loving it. The Mission finished By noblest act of will. A Father pleased Though forced to look away That death might pay For every trespass Ever done. It’s dark, but Soon the rising Of the Son. My Hero.
The How, What and Why of Prayer