“Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.”

April 27, 2011

“O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need for further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, that so I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, “Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.” Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from the misty lowland where I have wandered so long. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God

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Rotten sinners just make me want to throw stuff

February 17, 2011

You can’t blame Moses for losing it. He comes down the mountain after receiving the ten commandments, and the losers in the valley had gotten completely out of hand. They had melted down their gold, made an idol for themselves, and began to worship their blasphemous creation.

Understandably, Moses goes ballistic:

“So I took hold of the two tablets and threw them out of my two hands and broke them before your eyes.”

(Deuteronomy 9:17 ESV)

Doesn’t it just make you blow your top when someone sins against you? Make you mad enough to throw stuff? Especially when the offenders are folks from the church? Me too.

But you know, I’m not so sure that I have all that much in common with Moses. Listen to what he did after destroying the tablets:

“I neither ate bread nor drank water, because of all the sin that you had committed, in doing what was evil in the sight of the LORD to provoke him to anger. For I was afraid of the anger and hot displeasure that the LORD bore against you, so that he was ready to destroy you. But the LORD listened to me that time also.”

(Deuteronomy 9:18-21 ESV)

Moses’ response to the moral failure of Israel didn’t stop just with throwing things. He threw himself into fasting and prayer. He loved the people of God enough to deny himself food and water for 40 days and nights. And the Lord heard his prayer and did not destroy the rebellious nation.

There’s a lesson here for me … maybe for you too. Consider this passage from the book Fasting by Scot McKnight:

“How do we respond when we discover the fresh, fatal sins of others? The story about Moses’ body pleading (fasting) speaks against our tendency to publicize our complaints about others. We have become a culture of cultural critics and a church of church critics. Perhaps more of us need to be quick to convert our concern about the moral failures of others into body pleading for them instead of public words against them.”

My reaction to the sins of others should be grief, not anger. What might be the effect of denying myself through intercession and fasting, rather than indulging myself through hypocritical indignation?

How do you react when confronted by the sins of others?


Are you radically devoted to God’s glory?

January 31, 2011

From the book Radical by David Platt:

George Mueller (1805-98) pastored a church in Bristol, England, for more than 60 years, but he was best known for the orphan ministry he began. During his life he cared for more than 10,000 orphans. Remarkably, and intentionally, he never asked for money or other resources to provide for these orphans. Instead he simply prayed and trusted God to provide.

When I read Muller’s biography, I was shocked to learn why he started the orphanage. His primary purpose was not to care for orphans. Instead, he wrote in his journal:

If I, a poor man, simply by prayer and faith, obtained without asking any individual, the means for establishing and carrying on an Orphan-House, there would be something which, with the Lord’s blessing, might be instrumental in strengthening the faith of the children of God, besides being a testimony to the consciences of the unconverted, of the reality of the things of God. This, then, was primary reason for establishing the Orphan-House…. The first and primary object of the work was (and still is:) that God might be magnified by the fact, that the orphans under my care are provided with all they need, only by prayer and faith without anyone being asked by me or my fellow-laborers whereby it may be seen, that God is faithful still, and hears prayer still.

Muller decided that he wanted to live in such a way that it would be evident to all who looked at his life–Christian and non-Christian alike–that God is indeed faithful to provide for this people.  He risked his life trusting in the greatness of God, and in the end his life made much of the glory of God.

God delights in using ordinary Christians who come to the end of themselves and choose to trust in his extraordinary provision. He stands ready to allocate his power to all who are radically depended on him and radically devoted to making much of him.


What can Nacho Libre teach you about prayer?

June 30, 2010

“I know it is fun to wrestle. A nice pile-drive to the face; or a punch to the face; but you cannot do it because it is in the Bible not to wrestle your neighbor.” — Nacho, speaking to the children of the parish

Now, I’m not typically one to be dismissive of another man’s exegesis, but I’ve got a bone to pick with this parish priest who moonlights as a masked luchador. To the best of my knowledge, the scriptures are completely silent about wrestling with your neighbor.

However, the apostle Paul was a big fan of wrestling in prayer for your neighbor:

Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. (Colossians 4:12)

I know a thing or two about wrestling. I’m especially knowledgeable about getting pinned, as I was one of the most pitiful wrestlers to set foot in the squared circle. I also know that the sport is physically demanding like no other. Though a match lasts no more than six minutes, every bit of your strength must be exerted against your opponent. If you let up, even for a moment, you end up flat on your back.

What would it be like to wrestle in prayer for someone? To call out to God with every fiber of your being? Though I regularly pray for people, that kind of intensity is something of a mystery. Chances are that I need to grow in my faith in the Lord’s ability and willingness to intervene. Maybe my casual approach reveals a lack of love for others.

Do you wrestle in prayer? Can you offer suggestions from your experience to help me be more like Epaphras, who was always wrestling in prayer for the church at Colossae?


Does your mind wander during prayer?

June 16, 2010
(Re-posted from Jared Wilson’s excellent blog. It’s a a slightly edited excerpt from the session called “Intentional Prayer” in his book Abide: Practicing Kingdom Rhythms in a Consumer Culture.)
“Our obsessive drive to control our minds in the presence of God, that is, to pray about one thing or stick to one list, may be a form of hiding from God.”
— David Hansen, Long, Wandering Prayer

The great thing about our God is that he takes us as we are but does not leave us as he finds us. This means that a wandering mind (and even body) is okay in prayer. If you are engaged in the practice of intentional prayer in solitude and quiet, God who is outside of time is not offended if it takes you time to get everything expressed or you have to wander around your house or neighborhood or park to clear yourself of noise.

There is nothing magical about staying in one place or staying on one track mentally. You may begin with many words and slowly run out, but if you are drawing close to God, stay there and think. Let your mind wander and then find its way back to prayer. There is no such thing as perfect prayer. Jesus is perfect and he bears the burden of perfection in prayer for you. Walk around. Sing. Read. Intersperse prayer with devotional reading or Bible study. Talk to yourself a bit. Work out the kinks. It’s okay. God can handle “messy.” The effort of wandering prayer is dirt enough for God to breathe life into.

“Come overwhelmed with life. Come with your wandering mind. Come messy.”
— Paul Miller, A Praying Life


John Stott’s Morning Trinitarian Prayer

March 22, 2010

Saw this excellent prayer on trevinwax.com.

Enjoy.

Good morning heavenly Father,
good morning Lord Jesus,
good morning Holy Spirit.

Heavenly Father, I worship you as the creator and sustainer of the universe.
Lord Jesus, I worship you, Savior and Lord of the world.
Holy Spirit, I worship you, sanctifier of the people of God.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.

Heavenly Father, I pray that I may live this day in your presence
and please you more and more.

Lord Jesus, I pray that this day I may take up my cross and follow you.

Holy Spirit, I pray that this day you will fill me with yourself and cause your fruit to ripen in my life:
love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Holy, blessed and glorious Trinity, three persons in one God,
have mercy upon me. Amen.

John Stott, quoted in Basic Christian: The Inside Story of John Stott


19 prayers from the Bible to kick-start your devotional life

March 4, 2010
This week at our church, we studied the encouragement from Colossians 4:2 to “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” It was suggested that praying the prayers of the Bible can be a real help for those who are struggling to make intercession a regular part of their lives.
So, I searched the scriptures Googled prayers in the Bible, and came up with the list below. Let me know if this proves to be a valuable resource for you!