Tag Archives: Prayer

Strong Peace

A favorite scripture verse of mine is Philippians 4:7 “The peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Like many in this crazy, stressed-out, constantly-running-to-catch-up world, I long for peace. Peace that will last not just for a moment, but for days, months, years. Peace that will calm my stormy seas.

Paul describes God’s peace in some unique ways. First, he states that God’s peace will surpass human knowledge or understanding. This means that God’s peaces comes even when I have not figured everything out or have everything under my control. The future may seem very fuzzy and relationships may be very rocky, still God’s peace can rule. After all it is God’s peace, not mine.

Second he testifies that God’s peace is strong, because it guards us. Paul recognizes that there will be many struggles and conflicts in our daily life. The evil one will harass us. Yet God’s peace is a rock or fortress that guards our hearts and minds from the assaults

Third, God’s peace guards both our hearts and our minds. The heart is the seat of our emotions and the mind is the home of our thoughts. God’s peace is to rule in our emotional and intellectual lives, our feelings and our thoughts.

Finally God’s peace directs us to Jesus Christ. Jesus was a model of peace to his disciples, sleeping in the boat when the stormy sea threatened (Mark 4:35-41). God’s peace is not found in the absence of problems, but with the presence of Jesus.

Right now, as you read this, take a moment to close your eyes and visualize God’s loving, peaceful arms surrounding you. Perhaps you can visualize yourself floating in the peaceful river above. Take a deep breath and say, “God’s Peace surrounds me.” Take another deep breath and say it again, “God’s peace surrounds me.” Practice that breath prayer and discover God’s abiding peace is always near.

Lord Jesus, breathe into me your peace.

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Ocean Hike

Ruby Beach

As a teenager I backpacked two portions of the wilderness beaches along the Pacific Ocean.   The beaches were part of the Olympic National Park in Washington state and were the only trails open during the winter season (the high mountain passes were snow-covered).

I use the word “trail” loosely, because most of the route was the beach itself. Hikers simply kept the ocean on  their right or left, depending on whether they were going north or south.  Campsites could be found on the beach itself or inside the neighboring forest.  There were no roads or towns, just forest, ocean and beach.

However beach hiking had its tricky sections.   Steep, rocky headlands would jut out into the ocean.  Theses headland had little or no beach so a hiker had a choice.   Wait for low tide and race around the headland or find a trail that led up and over the headland to the open beach beyond.   I carried a tide table with me when I hiked, so I could know when the low tide would be and plan accordingly.   If I arrived at a headland too early or too late, I had to wait or try to find the bypass trail.  (Sort of like trying to find a portage trail in the BWCA.) 

I often think our spiritual walk with Jesus is like hiking on the beach. There can be long sections were the path is very clear and beautiful, yet wild at the same time.  We simply need to remember to keep the ocean (Jesus) on our left or right.  But then we come to some rocky headland, some struggle or challenge, that blocks the path.   We learn to either stop and look at the tide table, (a sort of prayer time) waiting for the tide to recede.  Or we take our chances in finding the wilderness trail (never easy) that leads up and over.    We may even loses sight of the ocean (Jesus), for a time.    Yet the sound of crashing waves and smell of salt air reminds us that Jesus is close by.

What images of walking with Jesus do you carry in your life?

Quarks and Prayers

Quarks: sub-atomic particles

This morning I listened to a podcast of an interview with John Polkinghorne, an English physicist and theologian.  He described how his understanding of sub-atomic quarks helped him to understand prayer. http://being.publicradio.org/programs/2011/quarks-creation/   In the past science explained the world in mechanistic terms as fixed and determined, like a carefully made watch that is ticking away.  But now physicists realize that things are not quite so pre-determined. Quarks are the tiniest participles of matter, smaller than atoms, that scientist cannot exactly locate nor predict.  Quarks are sort of “cloudy,” fluid, chaotic.

For Polkinghorne this changed his understanding of prayer.  In a mechanical, pre-determined world, prayer did not make much sense.  Everything was locked into a set pattern of laws that God had established at creation.  But in the world of quarks, where it is much more fluid and unknown, prayer becomes an interaction with God and creation. 

In old science, God was simply a watchmaker who created the world, wound it up and then step back to observe the watch from a distance. And yes, there are some strong physical laws that guide our days.  The sun will rise in the east, not the west.  If you jump off a roof, you will not fly, but fall to earth.   Yet, in the field of quarks, God is also like a conductor, constantly interacting with the musicians who are making music together.  With quarks Polkinghorne found beauty, wonder and awe, like a good jazz improvisation. 

This makes sense to me. For example I do not pray that the January cold-snap in Minnesota will suddenly become a July heat-wave.  The seasons are fixed.  Yet the chaotic, fluid nature of weather could be influence by the prayers of God’s people.  The prophet Elijah’s prayers for a drought in I Kings 17-18 is indicative of this.  The same is true for prayers of healing; there is an interplay between our body, mind and spirit that truly affects the body’s healing.  Prayer is an invitation for God to participate in our body’s healing, in a deep elemental way.  When we pray for someone to be healed of cancer, we are asking God to allow the healthy cells in the body to replace/remove the cancer cells at the most basic biological level.

My favorite prayer of Jesus reflects such an attitude.  We pray, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as in heaven.”  As we pray this prayer we are opening ourselves to God’s activity in the world, seeking to be in the flow of  God’s Spirit.  The Spirit is not pre-determined, but more fluid and sometimes chaotic, like a dance. The will of God has fixed aspects, like the ten commandments.  Yet in our daily life, we seek to see the conductor’s baton and stay with God’s rhythm and beat.

How has your understanding of prayer changed overtime?

Sunday Prayer Dec 12 2010

Almighty God, creator of heaven and earth, the brilliant sunrise this morning bears witness to the wonder and glory of your power.  Grant us the heart, mind and soul to praise your name and bear witness to your steadfast love.  As people dig out from yesterday’s snowfall, we remember those who have no home.  We pray for all who work in emergency shelters and for those who provide services to the homeless.   Grant them wisdom, compassion and perseverance as they seek to help.  We also thank you this day for all the men and women who clear our streets and roads and make it possible for us to travel.   We ask in the name of Jesus, our Savior and Lord.

Installation Prayer

Almighty and Gracious God, as I am installed as lead pastor of Resurrection today,
I pray that the power of Christ’s resurrection will be evident among your people.

Together may we learn to trust you above everything else.
Together let us live the call proclaimed in your word.
Together teach us to serve the people in our community and around the world.

Though we cannot see the ending, nor fully comprehend the challenges, we place our hands in yours, trusting you to guide us into your future.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve among such hopeful, caring people. Thank you for being our Lord and Savior.  In Jesus’ powerful name I pray.  Amen