Besides the prayer scene from the Apocalypse recorded in Revelation 8:1-5, what else do you need to encourage you to pray? Maybe Jesus’ example?
Jesus’ practice was to go be alone with the Father and pray. The disciples saw how it changed Him or affected Him, and said to Him, “Teach us to pray.” He gave them a model prayer we call “The Lord’s Prayer.”
And he told them a parable about prayer—about a poor widow crying out to a wicked judge, who granted her request because of persistence, so they “would always pray, and not lose heart.”
Notice Jesus prayer “for deliverance” and “of submission” in the garden with his sleeping friends. Notice his prayer to Father before raising Lazarus from the dead. Notice his prayer of thanksgiving upon the return of the seventy disciples and their reports of spiritual exploits and spiritual authority poured out on them.
Note Jesus in prayer. Follow his examples. Follow his lead.
Note when he prayed prayers of mercy for the likes of us, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.” Notice when he answered prayers for mercy like those of blind Bartimaeus in Jericho, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” (Mark 10:46-52)
This is a skill you learn by practice as you go your way; it’s an art form; it’s a simple heart cry. It’s individual to you. It’s not complicated.
But it’s done! It must be prayed. That’s the main thing. Often and much. It demonstrates humility and worship. It fosters relationship and knowing the King – to Whom you pray — and Him knowing you.
You can almost hear Jesus as He said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them.”
So pray! It pleases him. He delights in the prayers of his people, the upright.
It’s the most important communication in your earth experience, to know and be known — by Him.
I’m quite certain prayer is an important piece of the 2020 puzzle. Prayerlessness is in large measure what got us into this present darkness. Prayer will be key to getting us out! Certainly personally, and also for our families, our friends, our churches, and perhaps our nation.
Don’t lose heart!
“He does what’s best for those who fear him— hears them call out, and saves them.” Psalm 145:19 MSG
“The Blessing” from a good God, Who hears and answers prayer…
Prayer is a piece of the puzzle. Would you agree? Read Revelation 8:1-5 — what does this tell us about prayer? Is this some sort of mystical image or an actual, ongoing event? Something that really happens moment by moment, day by day, that affects things in heaven and on earth? In our lives and the lives of the people we love?
Tomorrow our 2020 reading, friendship group starts our look into prayer.
It’s purpose and practice? How it works? How and why it pleases God? How to approach it and affect changes in our circumstances. How to expect and experience those effects.
I’m expecting new revelation about prayer — its power and efficacy. And I am expecting newly experiential intimacy with our Lord, Maker, Master, Creator, Father, Friend.
Prayer is the spiritual discipline in which I’m personally the weakest, that I understand the least. It’s also possibly the one that matters most to joyful and victorious life and living!
I’m praying for a new insight into its power and practice. That seems to be a good and humble place to begin.
It appears the Holy Spirit has led us to two simple books to read about prayer and ponder as He provides revelation, insight, and grace for the moment, to apprehend this portal into the heavenlies, into the actual throne room, for his purposes and our pleasure, our good. And the good of those around us.
“So you don’t care about one billion Catholics?” That’s what I heard in the spirit recently — a thought that wasn’t my thought — which I’ve learned to believe is from the Lord. I couldn’t even tell you what I was thinking at the time, but I will never forget what I heard.
I have a high view of Catholics, I think, and I’ve always found common ground in Christ when relating to them as friends, in monasteries and retreat centers, and I had a good friend for a time who was the priest at Christ the King Catholic Church in the neighborhood where I lived.
But I didn’t question the thought. I know that “man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” [I Sam 16:7]. The inference, strong but gentle, was,”I do, and you should too.” That became easier and almost a mandate and passion Easter Sunday 2020 with what I heard from Andrea Bocelli. It peaked my spiritual senses, and I believe it reverberated in the heavens. A prayer birthed in the heart of God, to be answered soon. Mercy for our world.
Protestants & Catholics
There may be something just below the surface in protestant thinking that goes something like this, “Most Catholics don’t read the Bible for themselves, and have at times been discouraged from doing so, so how could they believe? Do they even know what they believe?” Something like that or along those lines. Then some superiority illusions or pride creeps in, because we protestants study the Bible, know the Bible and what we believe it teaches. Pride blinds one to truth and reality.
Protestants beware of blinding pride. Or as Jesus told the Pharisees (the most religious Jews of His day), “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me.” [John 5:39] That is, they couldn’t see that God in the flesh was standing right in front of them, even though they studied Scripture and its prophecies.
But Bocelli’s simple act of faith, prayer, and worship on the world stage demonstrated simple, childlike faith in doing what he had been invited to do. Child like faith may be a trademark of Catholics? Something akin to the thief on the cross, who sensed his own miserable condition, getting what he deserved, but also sensed that Jesus was the Son of God, asked for mercy, and received the grace of salvation — without much Bible knowledge, as far as we know, like a little child.
That kind of faith may be a Catholic strength?! Yet beware of being somewhat familiar with Jesus, and like the five foolish virgins, not being known by Him, [Matt 25:1-13] putting your faith in saying, “I’m a Catholic or I’m a Christian.” Jesus had something to say to the Pharisees about that too, “And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.” [Matt 3:9] Or said another way, “You think you’re fine because you’re Jews, but that’s not enough.” Grace received by faith is required, and the resulting relationship.
I think this pandemic, isolation, and solitude has caused Christ followers around the world to reexamine what they believe. Who and how much they trust? Something along the lines of “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” [Phil 2:12b] And it’s caused Christ followers to minimize their differences and pull together in faith, solidarity, and obedience to Christ.
I’m not talking about universalism here, the teaching or belief that everyone will go to heaven and have eternal life. The Bible doesn’t teach that. And Jesus Himself certainly didn’t. Remember He said, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the way that leads to life, and only a few find it.” [Matt 7:13-14] And, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able.” [Luke 13:24] He also said it wasn’t His will that any should perish, but that all would come to eternal life.” [2 Peter 3:9] So our wills, wants, desires, actions, and words play a pivotal part in knowing Him.
I’m just saying I’m not the gate keeper. None of us are. Only One is — He Who rose from the dead that first Easter, once for all time, and for all who believe.
So know Him! More importantly, be known by Him.
Amazing Grace — Blind or Seeing
The Bocelli event ended with Amazing Grace, something every believer in Christ can identify with immediately and intensely. A humble acknowledgement we once were blind. And only by His Grace, now we see — the Risen Savior, for Who He Is. The Christ. The King. The Messiah. God’s Son. A loving, powerful One Who hears prayer.
How striking and strong it was to have a blind man with perhaps the best voice in the world standing there singing and seeing in the spiritual realm, while many sighted people watched who were perhaps spiritually blind. Grace was all around, and is there to be found.
I think something changed with that proclamation and prayer Easter Sunday 2020. Many prayers were ascending to God to have mercy and extend grace in our time of global need. More than 2.5 million people watched the powerful event live. As of this post, 38,629,568 have viewed it! Certainly it must have been the largest Christian meeting or spiritual meeting ever experienced at one time. That it included people of all faiths and many nonbelievers is remarkable as well, in the privacy of their own homes, listening in a world quietened by plague. People looking for answers witnessed a global spiritual gathering and event around Christ — facilitated by YouTube, the world wide web, and a humble man with a great voice and sincere faith, moved by compassion for his city, his country, and the world.
So there you have it. There are an estimated 2.3 billion Christians in the world, 1.2 billion Catholics and 1.1 billion protestants — about 30% of the world population. Because of Jesus, we care about each other and our world. Our prayer is that He show us more of His Amazing Grace in this crisis as we love, serve, and worship Him, Who Is Worthy — He is rich in Mercy and abundant in Grace. Amen.
I knew it could be special! I’ve heard some of Andrea Bocelli’s songs before. A voice, and seemingly a heart, that turns heads whenever one hears almost any note he sings.
My wife had seen a message on line announcing that Bocelli would be bringing a free concert to the world from Milan Italy at noon our time, live streamed to the world via YouTube. And it happened just like that!
Two and one half million viewers watched it live. During the next forty-eight hours, more than thirty-three million people had watched it. Amazing!
I’ll comment on it later, with the English translations of the songs sung in Italian, but you can watch it here now, and experience it for yourself.
The music, the back story, the architecture , the videography, the choreography, the history, the understated nature of this world-wide communication and prayer to the Almighty will speak to your heart in ways words cannot. Just enjoy it for now, and listen with your heart, to something deeply spiritual, and very special. Music for hope.
As the truth about the Coronavirus continues to be researched and debated in the privacy of homes, in the media, and on social media, I’m grateful for some of the best things my friends sent me yesterday. To provide different perspectives, and some big picture truth.
To be honest I’ve been a wee bit angry at our leaders, media, and people for letting fear of this flu virus escalate into panic that has very likely caused unnecessary damage to us all far exceeding anything the virus could have done. And I’m perplexed about all the fear and concern with so little evidence of the danger?
But alas, the possible small crisis has taken on a personality of its own and become a crisis, with little sign of abating until it runs its course. Still I’d like to stand against the storm in some small way and pray others will too. Pray may be the key word. There is One with power to act, and He hears prayer. In fact it’s His idea.
That said, yesterday I received a blog link through an email from my good friend and spiritual mentor for decades. Because I know his spiritual sensitivity, heart, and wisdom, I knew I should give credence to everything he said, and was feeling. So I did. It changed my attitude and helped me get on with the reality of the thing, and remembering people are important, and people serving people. And to be obedient and faithful in natural things, like the presidential directive, was practical and important.
It didn’t take away the truth from anything I was seeing or feeling, but it changed my focus to a trajectory in a healthier direction. Thank you Charles.
The next best thing I got was from a beautiful, sweet spiritual sister who had been very angry about what was happening too. We shared thoughts and she shared something from C.S Lewis someone sent her that deserves a blog all by itself without comment. Thank you Patty.
I share it here:
The following from C. S. Lewis. It was written in 1948 after the dawn of the atomic age.
In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. “How are we to live in an atomic age?” I am tempted to reply: “Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.”
In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors—anesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.
This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.