Please Shut the Door, [Prayer]

“When you pray, go into a room alone and shut the door. Pray to your Father in private. He knows what is done in private, and he will reward you.”

Matthew 6:6, CEV

“We are to be shut out from men, and shut in with God.”

Andrew Murray

Prayer is a deep and awesome thing.  And yet in a sense our physical life must have cheeseburgers and spaghetti.  Food powers us, and we are fueled by it’s energy.  Prayer is also necessary to propel us, for it is our spirit’s nourishment.

We cannot survive without food. We see pictures of emaciated children in some African country, and they are just  skin and bones.  It is a sick evil.  But there are Christians who are like this spiritually.  They are starving because they are not praying.

Jesus told His followers, to go into a room alone.  Then shut the door.  We must learn that God is in the secret.  If we should meet with Him, we must be as secretive.  “Shut the door,”  what happens in there is not for public display. We must be quite discrete in our times with Him.

When I was at in my first year at Bible school, I heard a guest speaker teach from Matt. 6:6.  I was pumped up by it, praying with the door shut was a new idea for me.  When I got to my dorm room, I went straight for my closet to put this new revelation into action. Kneeling there in the closet, with the door slid shut, I tried to pray.  And after a bit I fell asleep, still on my knees.

About an hour later I woke up with a start.  I had no idea where I was, and in my disorientation I slid open the closet door with a loud bang.  I tried to stand, but my legs couldn’t support me.  I lurched out in the room and fell in a pile.  My roommate was startled to say the least.  He had been in the room studying quietly by himself, when suddenly this ‘wildman’ burst out of the closet and immediately collapsed.  It was hysterical!

So much for my first attempt at praying in secret.

The quest for spiritual growth will have to lead us into the closet.

The injunction to close the door can be understood in a variety of ways.  The act of isolating ourselves is a physical one.  But we must understand we need to shut up all our social entanglements and obligations.  We isolate ourselves so we can be intimate with Him.

We just need to figure out just how we are to do this.  We shouldn’t give up when it doesn’t bring wondrous results.  We are all students in this, we will advance at times, and then retreat.  But every second in the closet can be an intimate blessing to our souls.

“He that loveth little prayeth little; he that loveth much prayeth much.” 

– Augustine

 

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The Presence Makes the Difference

jesus-paralyticI once was told that depression is the inability to construct a future. Perhaps that is precisely where I’ve come to, this old despair that lies dormant until the conditions are just right— and then it explodes in burst of black dandelions.

For about three weeks, I had experienced being down. Somedays were much worse than others (and some where actually reasonable). I should of been more cautious. Afterall, I have twenty years of battling this old dragon that has been my most potent enemy. I suppose I got a bit arrogant. I know I felt immune.

I laid in bed, unable to get out for days. Obviously this was a concern, but I couldn’t find any strength to speak of. I couldn’t even pray.

 “A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them.Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them.Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

Mark 2:1-5

There maybe some who wondered about the sins of this paralyzed man. I believe I may know:

  • There were sins of despair—of God’s goodness.
  • There would’ve been despondency of an unchanging future.
  • And finally, anger at God’s decision to leave him paralyzed and a burden to his family and friends.

That paralyzed man was carried by his friends, and brought into Jesus’ presence. And that is exactly what happened to me. I’ve been astounded by those who carried me. This man had no strength on his own; he was “jello on a mat.” (I don’t mean to be crude or unfeeling).

My own tiredness lingers, I’m struggling to pray. I’m too unfocused, but I’ve been told that comes with the territory with the aftermath of a total depressive meltdown. But I know Jesus. It is His touch that I must have now.

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For a Child Born Without Eyes

A Pastor’s Letter to the Parents of a Child Born Without Eyes

Dear John and Diane,

You are the child, and He is your father
You are the child, and He is your father

Last night, as I prayed with Noel, you were heavy on my mind. I said, “Lord, O Lord, please let me be a pastor who preaches and leads and loves in a way that makes the impossibilities of life possible for your people by a miracle of sustaining grace. Help me to know the weight and pain of this life and not to be breezy when the mountains have fallen into the sea. Help me to have the aroma of Christ’s sufferings about me. Prevent shallowness and callousness to pain. O Lord make me and my people a burden bearing  people.”

O John and Diane, I am so heavy with your child’s sightlessness!  God is visiting Bethlehem with such pain these days in the birth of broken children. Randy and Ann Erickson with their baby’s broken heart; Jan and Rob Barrett with their baby’s liver outside the body; and your precious little one! Is the Lord saying, “I have a gift for your community.” This is not one or two or three couples’ burden. This is a gift and call to the whole church. This word concerning the brokenness of this fallen age of futility. This is an invitation for you all to believe that here we have no lasting city (Hebrews 13:14).

This is an invitation for you to count every gain as loss for the sake of Christ (Philippians 3:7). This is a shocking test to see if you will “lose heart” when in fact God’s purpose is to show that his grace is sufficient to renew our inner person every day to deal with the “slight momentary affliction which is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, because we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).

O Lord, open our eyes to your love in this pain. Open our eyes. Then Elisha prayed, and said, ‘O Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes that he may see.’ So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha” (2 Kings 6:17). John and Diane, the mountains surrounding your lives are filled with the horses and chariots of God.

Only to the eyes of unbelief does the devil have the upper hand here. God is at work in ways and for years and generations and millions of people that we cannot now imagine.

 This is ours to believe and to bear, no matter the cost. This is ours for this short life. It seems to me that this life is a proving ground for the kingdom to come. Some are asked to devote forty or fifty years to caring for a handicapped child instead of breezing through life without pain. Others are asked to be blind all their lives… But only in this life – ONLY in this life some are . I want to be the kind person who makes that “ONLY” what it really is – very short. Prelude to the infinity of joy, joy, joy.

But not yet. Not entirely.

How will we ever cope with the burdens of this life if we believe this is all there is, or even the main act in this drama of reality? O Lord, give us your view of things. May God fill you with anticipated joy. I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

I love you,

Pastor John Piper

 

The volunteer disability ministry blog for Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, MN.  This message can be found at:

Broken Believers Note:  Although this message has little to do with mental illness, I felt compelled to post it for the way it grips one’s normal way of thinking.  I felt as I read it that I saw a principle of living in a broken body, living in a broken world. If you didn’t benefit, my apologies.

ybic, Bryan

Grace That Teaches

“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age,”

– Titus 2:11-12, NIV

The grace of God can be very obvious.  It is seen by all.  It is not sophisticated, and you don’t have to jump through any ‘hoops’.  Everyone can see it.  However, there are a couple of things that will block it.  The sins of ungodliness, and the passions of this world system.  These will short-circuit His grace– sort of like dumping a glass of water on your computer’s keyboard.

It is ‘grace that teaches’.  We learn and take our lessons from handling God’s grace in our own lives.  We receive our education from that grace, it tutors us and we grow in understanding as we understand His love for us. Grace comes, and we receive our lessons, and take notes.  We begin to understand others, and get a handle on life and all its imponderables.

Grace educates, but legalism never does.  The Law has absolutely no ability to educate our hearts and minds.  But God’s untiring mercy explodes on us, and we begin to download all that He offers.  Learning grace expands us, and we develop abilities that we never dreamed of.  We start to do things that amaze us.

One of the most amazing things is that we learn to say, ‘No!’  This is perhaps the ultimate ability–to just say no.  Saying ‘no’ means we will not step in that particular direction.  We won’t travel down that road.  ‘No!’ is in a sense is saying, ‘Yes!’ to what God wants.  Learning to do that is what we are doing here.

Grace is so gentle, and she is a perfect teacher.  She teaches me to be merciful and forgiving.  All that she has, she imparts to me.  When I receive from grace myself, I become gentle and joyful and kind.  When I receive from grace, I become a much more fulfilled Christian.

There are things that work contrary to this.  Ungodliness and the lusts made by this world’s system.  The dynamic of grace somehow gets “turned-off” when we get diverted into these sins.  And this happens all the time, it seems.  But developing a self-controlled, upright and a godly life will give us a deep and eternal perspective.

We are not created for living in a garbage dump.  We are royalty–we are meant to rule and reign, as Kings and Queens.  We have been made ready by Grace for this place.

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