Please Pray For Me.

 

Prayer, A Gift of Love

During the last few weeks, I have heard several times, “Please pray for me,” Most of us, reply with, “Of course…or …yes.” And I believe that most of us do say at least one prayer for that person. We might include their name in our evening prayer, or we might spit out a hurried prayer as we carry on with our lives.

Today, I remind you that Prayer is a gift of love. When I give a gift, I want my gift to be the best possible gift I can give. What makes our prayer the best possible?

  1. Ask for details. Who are you to pray for? What is needed?
  2. Give details. “Of course, I’ll pray for you tonight before sleep or every morning for the coming week, at church on Sunday.”
  3. Offer to pray right now.
  4. Find a private spot, join hands and talk with God.

Number three, “Offer to pray right now,” is the hardest. Most of us are afraid to pray out loud. We want to get it right. What if we say something that…offends God?…offends the person…What if someone else hears and is critical or offended…What if I don’t get it right… I don’t know the right words.” For many today, praying is scary, especially if someone else is going to hear our prayer.

Over the years, I have been thanked for my prayers, or told that I’m good at praying. “What a lovely prayer” is a common statement. “Thank you. I needed that.” Yes, I am a minister. Yes, the assumption is that I can do this, and do it better than most “ordinary” people, whatever that means. This assumption is wrong. What I can do is talk with God. Over the years, I have learned that prayer is a conversation with God. All I need to do is focus on God, and just let the words pour out of my heart. God’s Spirit will take care of the rest. That’s the secret to public prayer. When we let go of worrying about what someone else is thinking of our prayer, and we just talk with God, our prayer becomes a gift of love. We actually can say, “Would you like me to pray with you right now?” because if the person says, “Yes,” we can do it.

 

“The spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit…intercedes for us…”  Romans 8:26

Can You Hear Yet?

 

Hearing Loss

My ability to hear has been decreasing. More people seem to be mumbling rather than talking. Last month, I purchased very expensive hearing aids. Hallelujah, I can hear again! My biggest problem has been letting go of the myth that wearing hearing aids means I’m getting old. I tell myself hearing aids are just like wearing glasses. I want to see clearly, and I want to hear clearly.

Jesus said, “Those who have ears to hear, let them hear.”(Mark 4:9) I’ve always thought of that statement in terms of people refusing to listen. Getting my hearing aids has given me a new perception. Sometimes, we have to accept the fact that, without reaching out a little, we just can’t hear the words of faith. We need to attend discussion groups on difficult topics or read books by writers who have opinions contrary to ours. As long as we keep plugging along with the same ideas and thoughts that we learned as children, we’ll never experience the joy of growing in our faith.

You may be finding it more and more difficult to understand the relevance of faith to your daily life. Maybe you’ve gradually become deaf to the comfort, guidance, and challenge of a life of faith. When we think we can’t afford the time required in learning something new, we close our ears and minds to the questions that trouble us. We’re afraid that new ideas might make faith old.

Jesus believed that the people of his time, particularly religious leaders, had become deaf to God’s message of love and forgiveness. His ideas were new. Jesus’ teachings and actions were the hearing aids of faith for his time. As people of faith today, we have to open our hearts and spend the time and energy to contemplate new ideas. Some we’ll accept. Some we won’t. For sure, we want our faith to be relevant. We want to hear well.

Will I Get It Right?

 

God is part of the equation.

Last week a lady picked up my book, “Can I Hold Him?” She held it close for a second and said, “God touched my heart as I heard you tell one of these stories tonight. She bought two copies and handed one to me to sign. “I’ll read this one before I give it away,” she said. I watched her walk away bubbling over with her experience of God’s Spirit.

Too often we think that everything in life depends on us. We tell ourselves, “I’d better get that presentation right or God’s message won’t be heard. I’d better use the right words in that prayer or God won’t hear it. I can’t be a visitor for the church or serve on the board, I’m not good enough, or I don’t know enough.” I’ve heard people also say, “We can’t baptize that child, her parents never darken the door of the church. It will just be an empty ritual.”

Everything does not depend on us. God is our partner. God doesn’t just stand by and watch, waiting for us to make a mistake. God works with us using our efforts, however great or faulty, to bring God’s peace and joy. When God asks us to tell someone about our faith, God doesn’t abandon us to flap around trying to find the “right” words. God uses what we do and say. When we baptize a child, God’s Spirit reaches out and touches that child in a very special way. The belief and commitment of both parents and church family is important but the ritual will never be empty no matter how faulty we are. God acts and the child is blessed.

As you go about your daily tasks, at work, at school, at home remember you’re not alone. God is right beside you bringing forth God’s love and plans from all you do.

Jesus said, “I am with you always…” Matthew 28:20

 

 

 

What Will We Do Differently in 2013?

A New Path

What will I do differently in 2013? Is there anything I can actually change? The Biblical story about the Wise Men seeking Jesus is often the topic for the first Sunday of the New Year. If you know the story, you’ll remember that after giving their gifts to Jesus, “and having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.” I smile when these wise men do as they’re asked without even one question.

Most of us are not nearly as compliant as those wise folk. When the suggestion is made that we do something differently, we often refuse. After all, we’ve always done it this way. Why change? Even when what we’re doing is unsuccessful, we find trying something new difficult.

Still, as we open our calendar to January, we hope that this year we’ll do better. Maybe we’ll eat less, exercise more, and lose a little weight. Possibly, we’ll read our Bible regularly, or join a Bible study group. For me, in 2013 I’d like to be in bed by eleven most nights. I plan on spending several hours a day just writing. We all have our list, but we’re not like the Wise Men of the Bible. We get busy and forget. Change cramps our life style. We don’t go home a different way.

In 2013, I suggest that we try one small change. Do one random act of kindness every day. Remember to thank the clerk who helped you find something in the store or send a card to tell a friend you care. One tiny act of kindness as you hurry through your day will make a difference in your life and someone else’s.  The ripple effect will change the world.

 

“And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.”  Matthew 2:12

 

For more of Janet Stobie’s reflections go to www.janetstobie.com