Praying for the One: Lenten Thanks

Chapel of the Holy Cross – Sedona, Arizona

     I woke around 3:00 a.m. today. My first thought was about a small group of women I met with a couple years ago. The study we did exposed intimate and painful experiences. Mine, aches from yesterday memories, had left scars in my soul. For some of the younger women, their pain was from fresh wounds.

     A few years ago, I embraced such middle-of-the night awakenings as sacred reminders to pray. For several minutes this very-early morning, I prayed for each group member by name. I prayed for hearts, marriages, children, health, and my friends’ everyday lives until I returned to slumber.

     One reason I believe praying for people is so important is because of something I heard Dick Foth[1] say: whenever we bring a person to the God of Creation in prayer, we are affirming that person’s great worth.

     Prayer is one of those mysteries of faith. More than 600 prayers, covering a time span of some five millennia, are recorded in the Bible.

     During the current Covid-19 crisis, I’ve heard and read many calls for people to pray.[2]

     One friend asked her sisters of faith to pray with her from 8:30 to 9:00 a.m. each Tuesday. The alarm on my calendar is set.

     My sister-in-law takes a prayer walk every morning from 6:15-6:45.

     Churches all over our nation are putting aside doctrinal differences, joining hearts and voices in prayers and petitions for protection and healing within local communities, our nation and the world.

     Another friend forwarded a unique suggestion I’ve been trying to practice. Every time you wash your hands, pray!

     Do groggy, middle-of-the-night prayers, prayer walks, or 20-second hand-washing prayers matter?

     Paul’s reminder to his friends (1 Thessalonians 5:17) to “pray without ceasing” makes me think they do.

     Does it make a difference when a group of girlfriends gather asking for God’s goodness and grace?

     When I consider these words spoken by Jesus, I would guess the answer is “YES:” For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” (Matthew 5:18)

     Is it all right to set aside deeply held traditions and beliefs to join others who don’t adhere to our same tenets of faith, asking God to intervene on behalf of a community, nation, and the world?

     The principle behind words, spoken by God to Solomon, convince me sincere, heartfelt petitions, made in humility to an almighty God have the power to change the condition of community, nation, and yes, even the world.

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV)

     During the next few days leading to Easter, would you please join me in praying.

     In humility, let’s put aside ideological preferences and pray blessings upon leaders, healers, and helpers of all ilk.

     Let us pray for

          The one who is weak and the one who is powerful,

               the beloved family member and the one who’s alone and isolated,

                    the wealthy one and the homeless one,

                         the one who’s confident and the one who’s terrified,

                              the old one and the young one,

                                   the healthy one and the sick one.

     Let us never forget that each ONE has great worth because that one is created and loved by God.

Prayer:

God of the One,

Thank you for loving everyone in this world.
Thank you, because of your great love, Jesus came, lived as humanity, died, and arose, conquering sin and death.
During this time of crisis felt throughout the earth, we pray for your grace and mercy.
Remind us to pray and care for each one you bring to our remembrance.

Amen

Sue Reeve

  1. Not a direct quote. Dick Foth co-authored A Trip Around the Sun with Mark Batterson
  2. Great article from Christianity Today, https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/march-web-only/covid-19-coronavirus-20-prayers-to-pray-during-pandemic.html

Considering Those Who Accompany Me on the Journey: Lenten Thanks

     During Lent, which I’ve decided this year will be a season of thanksgiving, I’m reminded repeatedly of the thankfulness I have for people whose lives have in the past, do in the present, and will in the future intersect mine.

     For over 40 years, I’ve been doing life with this guy. The first characteristic attracting me to Ron was his mellow baritone speaking voice. Even though many miles have separated us at times during our marriage, there have been fewer than a dozen days when I’ve not been able to hear my husband’s voice—a sound which always speaks safety and stability.

     As I write those words, I’m reminded that’s how I feel when I hear the ‘still, small voice’ of God’s Spirit speaking to my soul—a voice which scripture promises will never leave me and will never let me down.

     If my husband—with all the limitations that come from being just-a-guy—manages to convey love and acceptance to this very flawed lady, how much greater is the unconditional love and extravagant grace a perfect, all-knowing God shows me.

     One of the best parts of this segment of our marriage is the ability to travel to new places together. Now, honestly, my husband isn’t crazy about travel. He’d just as soon stay close to home. He’s willing to travel to places like Vermont (photo above taken during our trip to New England in October 2019) because he knows the experience brings me deep pleasure. He never begrudges accompanying his wife who’s filled with wanderlust, and he always ends up finding joy in the journey behind the lens of his beloved camera.

     I know from comments I’ve received that Ron’s photos—especially scenes from nature—have blessed you. Partnering with my husband in doing the Listening on the Journey… blog has been a wonderful answer to one of those “Surprise me, God” prayers I love to pray.

For the foreseeable future, I will continue to craft words, and my husband will continue to snap photos. Hopefully, both will continue to point you in the direction of a never-changing God in our always-changing worlds.

Prayer:
God of Perfect Relationship,
Thank you for allowing us to journey through our days with others.
Thank you for the gift of rich, life-giving relationships with others and especially You.
Help me never take for granted your never-ending grace and love.

Amen

Sue Reeve

When ‘Normal’ is Turned Upside Down: Lenten Thanks

I bet your head will bob up and down as you read these two rhetorical questions:

  • Haven’t the past couple weeks been peculiar?
  • Isn’t it mind-boggling how quickly ‘normal’ is turned upside down?

     When I worked for the government, crisis management was an important part of my job. I was privileged to receive high-quality training in the field of critical incident stress management.

     My professional training has been helpful recently in my role in care ministries at Lake City Church. I’ve spoken to well over one hundred people during this time, and I’ve been blessed over and over by some of their stories.

     A tenet of crisis work is RESILIENCE. Studies have shown most people bounce back after even the most horrific event. During my critical incident work, I was impressed by the resilience I observed and became convinced God built resilience into the human spirit.

     One characteristic promoting resilience is faith. These past couple weeks, most people I’ve spoken with possess a Christian faith. More than once, I’ve hung up the telephone feeling awed by the conversation.

     Recent interactions demonstrating resilience began earlier in the month in online exchanges with a Listening on the Journey… reader. Charlotte[1] is the friend of one of my friends. Over the years, at my friend’s request, I’ve prayed for Charlotte when her fight against cancer was especially difficult. I’ve discovered a woman who possesses deep faith, a whole lot of moxie, and despite difficult circumstances remains cheerfully optimistic.

     It came as no surprise to learn Charlotte is also a woman of prayer. Her note encouraged me. Charlotte wrote, “I love the blog. Some days I read it and pray for everyone ‘on my list.’ Other times it seems like you have written it just for me.”

     Charlotte illustrates characteristics of resilience such as hopefulness, prayer, other-centeredness, and commitment to personal growth.

     A recent prayer request crossed my desk that touched me deeply. I followed up with a phone call, and Sylvia told me about her beloved mom who is in the final stages of life, quarantined in a nursing home several states away. Her mother, a hospice nurse for several years, cared for many dying AID’s patients, saying, “They need help, and I will not be afraid.” During the time she was doing hospice work, Sylvia remembers her mama singing “This Little Light of Mine” to her and her sister at bedtime.

     Sylvia is sad her mother will undoubtedly die without loving family by her side even though she knows God will be with her mom as she transitions into her heavenly home.

     Tears welled up in my eyes as this daughter told me about a video call she had with her mother a few days ago. The nurse at the care facility told Sylvia her mother had been sleeping a lot and hadn’t been eating nor talking much the past few days. But Sylvia’s mama perked up and smiled when she heard her daughter sing “This Little Light of Mine.”

     Sylvia’s story reminded me family connection and meaningful work are two additional characteristics of resilience.

     Thankfulness is another important attribute leading to resilience. When I chose to make Lent 2020 a season of thanksgiving, I had no idea where this theme was going to take me! My email communication with Charlotte and phone conversation with Sylvia surely became part of my Lenten Thanksgiving journal.

     How are you dealing with the Covid-19 crisis? I hope you’re doing well and despite the inconvenience, you’re discovering the power of faith, hope, prayer, and service to others. I trust you’ll be able to carve out times for personal growth, connecting with family and engaging in meaningful at-home work activities.

     Above all, I pray each of us will remember to express thankfulness!

Prayer:
God Who Sees,
Thank you for the blessings you’ve shown during this time of international crisis.
Please protect, encourage, strengthen and empower
Each person reading this post and all who are working so hard and selflessly to give care, comfort and to stem this virus.
We ask for your grace and mercy to blanket the earth.
Amen

Sue Reeve

  1. Names in italics are pseudonyms