We must (MUST!) pray as believers in Jesus. Prayer is the oxygen of our spiritual life. We must breathe, or else. When I go to my doctor she puts an 0ximeter on my finger so she can assess how my lungs are using oxygen. I suppose if we would put it on our “spiritual finger,” might it reveal something?
We don’t know exactly how to pray, I think communicating with God isn’t natural. We must be taught. The disciples wanted desperately how to pray–they didn’t know how, (Luke 11:1-2). So, we too must have Jesus teach us.
We can only learn how if the Spirit teaches us.
Also, we must practice praying. We may do it terribly rotten, but we should never give up–it’s not natural–it’s supernatural. But we learn by doing. We may get discouraged but keep at it. Even if you’re a pro, the Holy Spirit will make sure you keep learning. Our walk should always grow deeper.
For me praying the Psalms is good practice, and there are 150 of them. The Jewish people have a 4000-year start on us–they’ve used the Psalms as their prayer/praise book. My sense is that this covers every human need–the entirety of our spiritual walk!
I think that Psalms 103 might be a great place to get started.
I’ve been told by some that the “Lord’s Prayer” is quite useful as well. I guess if you honestly take it phrase by phrase, something good will happen. I’m still learning (and I suspect I still will).
Below we find a way to jumpstart our prayer life. I hope you can use it.
One more thought. “Conversational Prayer” is a good thing for me lately. Talk with Jesus as if He was in the same room with you (He is) and just converse. Share your ups and downs, and it’s okay if you feel messed up. Relax. He’s your Father!
“I have refined you, but not as silver is refined. Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering.“
“Once we have come through the ‘furnace of humiliation,’ desperately, fearfully clinging to Christ for all He is worth, then we are fully equipped to march into somebody else’s furnace.”
‘Blessed with Bipolar”
Becoming a real and authentic person starts with basic responses that we’ve made in the presence of Jesus. Amazingly, this simple faith becomes the prerequisite, granting us the right to enter into the promises of the Lord. If you have those promises you may enter in. However, without faith in those promises, you won’t find anything real or true.
You will not be able to handle the Kingdom of God unless you’re walking out of a life of brokenness and humility.
Furnace people will often recognize those without any real and tangible connection with God’s work. There are furnace promises, but they, without truly understanding them will walk around in unreality. Often ‘they get religion.’ These are those who land on “the rocky soil.” They become ‘quasi-disciples’ who will do and say things that they really don’t really understand.
But furnace people have the connection to that which is honest and true. They rarely enter into anything false or manipulative. Their own hearts are transformed by the fire, and only then are qualified to minister God’s grace. Only furnace people can enter in. You will know them by their scars.
The Church has a tremendous need for those who have withstood the furnace of humiliation.
After we endure its ugliness and its great evil, we’ll discover that we’re in an altogether different place than when we first started. The Church is waiting for those who went in and then come out on the other side.
I was thinking today about Joseph, and his ordeal, as found in the Book of Genesis chapters 37-50. He was a rare kind of person. Perhaps, one in a hundred. You may emulate but never attain his faith. His confidence in the Lord was true.
Furnace people have the ability to function gracefully at this particular stage.
Furnace people are sovereignly brought to a place where they can minister the grace of God into desperate situations. We must convince ourselves, that furnace people have a gift. They have been through the worst. They may be battered and bruised. But they still stand. We must look to those who are the gracious agents of a loving God.
Our brothers and sisters have carried the Word with wisdom and grace. They come to us, through the fire. But will we receive them?
My hope is that you would personally grasp what God has worked in you. That really is your truest calling. The things good or bad, that have happened to you are part of how you’ll understand grace. He waits for you to respond. Will you come to Him, through the grace you find in the flames? The most gracious people you’ll ever meet are those who endured God’s furnace.
“He will sit like a refiner of silver, burning away the dross. He will purify the Levites, refining them like gold and silver, so that they may once again offer acceptable sacrifices to the Lord.”
“When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold. They believe that when something’s suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful.”
Just a short word of encouragement to all my suffering brothers and sisters.
I believe God loves you (it’s not a cliche) and has a tremendous plan for you. Scripture tells us that we will reign with Him (and the last time I looked, there is no disqualification for being mentally or physically ill).
Having suffered through your whole life will be just an enhancement, a bonus when you finally are held by Jesus, in His arms.
Those of us who struggle with depression, mania, and paranoia know a lot about cracks and brokenness. Mixed states, anxiety, and social withdrawal all have taken their toll. Some of us hear voices. Addictions and suicide attempts have made up our past life (and even sometimes try to intrude on the present.)
Some of us have physical disabilities. We come to worship from our wheelchairs and walkers. Some of us are deaf, and others are blind. But we come still. Our hope is in the coming King who promises us a new and fully redeemed Kingdom. There will be no more pain.
I have a dear friend with advancing Alzheimer’s who understands little of what is happening to her, but she still worships God with the rest of the congregation. Before dementia, she was a spiritual marvel. Without a doubt one of the astonishing women I had ever met.
Now however, when she raises her hands, I believe the angels step back in a deep awe.
I just realized this–the angels understand worship, they really do. Praise seems to be their specialty. Each angel that surrounds the throne has a PhD in “worshipology.”
But you know what? They really don’t understand our worship out of our pain, weakness, and brokenness.
Let us worship God with our cracks and brokenness. In John 12:1-7, a woman breaks open a jar of nard on Jesus’ feet, while the other disciples hang back and complain.
But always remember this dear one–it is only by being poured out that one can release the perfume.
This poem is written in the pantoum form and is based on Psalm 116, which is my favorite Psalm. I find that the repetition of lines in this form lends itself well to Christian poetry of lament and praise. I hope you are blessed by this offering.
Psalm for My Savior
For you, O Lord, have delivered my soul from death The anguish of death and darkness entangled me I called on the name of the Lord: “O Lord, save me!” Praise my God, my Savior who came to my rescue
The anguish of death and darkness entangled me My eyes filled with tears, my feet stumbled under me Praise my God, my Savior who came to my rescue Rescued me from my trouble, sorrow, and darkness deep
My eyes filled with tears, my feet stumbled under me The Lord, my God, heard my cry for love and mercy Rescued me from my trouble, sorrow, and darkness deep Now I know His grace and mercy are mine to keep
The Lord, my God, heard my cry for love and mercy He saw the anguished turmoil of my broken soul Now I know His grace and mercy are mine to keep I will forever praise His glorious name, Jesus
He saw the anguished turmoil of my broken soul I called on the name of the Lord: “O Lord, save me!” I will forever praise His glorious name, Jesus For you, O Lord, have delivered my soul from death