Tag Archives: prayer

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

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

God’s Mysterious Goodness Penetrates Darkness…

Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things. Ecclesiastes 11:5 (NLT)

     The woman who’d scheduled to meet at my church office told me she’d been attending Lake City Church for several months. I love to hear about people’s journeys of faith and invited her to share her story.

     It was one of those soul-stirring stories that leaves me feeling as if I’ve been entrusted with a priceless treasure to hold, even if only for a moment. When I asked permission to pass a portion on to you, promising to protect her privacy, she seemed pleased and agreed graciously. I’m calling my new friend Julia because that’s a favorite name of mine.

     Shaking her head back and forth slowly, Julia said she has always had a difficult time believing in God. “Trusting in what I can’t see just doesn’t make sense.”

     “What keeps you coming back to church?” I inquired.

     That question elicited tears, so I knew her answer was going to be good! She explained an encounter she had a few weeks earlier, saying, “I can only believe it was from God.”

     Julia described herself as a woman with a strong work ethic. Despite horrific news of a much-loved friend’s tragic death, she’d been able to make it through a busy workday.

     Emotionally exhausted after work, she decided to get take-out at a fast-food restaurant. Her emotional pain was indescribable, Julia said. How, she wondered, was she going to process this unexpected, incomprehensible news?

     After ordering her food, Julia uttered what she called a “sort-of prayer.”

     Reaching the pick-up window, the woman working behind the counter told Julia the customers in front of her had paid for her meal. The employee then said,

“Also, they asked me to tell you God loves you very much!”

     By that time, Julia said, the tears, which dampened her cheeks, turned into uncontrollable sobs. The kind employee reached through the pick-up window, took her hands and prayed “a long prayer” right there in that fast-food drive-through lane.

     Bit by bit, my new friend’s heart is being cracked open enough that rays from the light of faith are shining through. Julia is starting to comprehend that even though unseen, God is real, and faith isn’t based solely on logic.

     She wants to start reading her Bible and asked for help in getting started. I gave some suggestions and look forward to walking alongside this woman in her newfound adventure of faith.


     So often, I’ve seen God’s goodness most clearly during life’s darkest hours. Weak, vulnerable, with no idea which way to turn, like Julia, I realize “something I can only believe was from God” helped me navigate the darkness.

     Where are you in your faith journey?

     You may be like me. Even though you often feel like you still have more questions than answers, you believe at the core of your being the message of Christianity. An interior nudge convinces you God is only good and wants nothing but good for every sincere seeker. This assurance enables you to keep taking that next step of faith into the Divine Mystery.

     Others may be more like Julia. Trusting in what cannot be seen or proven doesn’t compute for you. Still, a lingering MAYBE lurks in your private moments of wondering.

     Perhaps a starting point for you may be uttering one of Julia’ssort-of prayers” and see where it leads you.

No matter where you are in your faith journey, I’m applauding you…

Sue Reeve