Between Heaven and Earth - Prayers and Reflections of Others #9

Discussion in 'Spirituality/Worship' started by LittleBluestem, Jun 1, 2008.

  1. LittleBluestem

    LittleBluestem New Member

    I am starting Part 6 - WHAT STRUGGLES DO WE ENCOUNTER WHEN WE PRAY? of Between Heaven and Earth: Prayers and Reflections that Celebrate an Intimate God edited by Ken Gire, so decided to start a new thread. The first section is The Struggle of Learning to Pray.[This Message was Edited on 06/01/2008]
  2. LittleBluestem

    LittleBluestem New Member

    Peter Marshall
    <FONT SIZE=-1>(1902-1949)</FONT>

    Lord, teach us to pray. Some of us are not skilled in the art of prayer. As we draw near to thee in thought, our spirits long for thy Spirit, and reach out for thee, longing to feel thee near. We know not how to express the deepest emotions that lie hidden in our hearts.
  3. LittleBluestem

    LittleBluestem New Member

    <FONT FACE="Book Antiqua"><FONT SIZE=+1>The Puritans found the age-old practice of meditating on scripture to be beneficial to prayer. Below are several quotations from Puritans on the subject. </FONT></FONT>

    Matthew Henry
    <FONT SIZE=-1>Puritan pastor and Bible commentator, commenting on Psalm 19:14: “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”</FONT>

    David’s prayers were not his words only, but his meditations; as meditation is the best preparation for prayer, so prayer is the best issue of meditation. Meditation and prayer go together.

    Thomas Manton
    <FONT SIZE=-1>One of the most prolific Puritan preacher-writers.</FONT>

    Meditation is a middle sort of duty between the word and prayer, and hath respect to both. The word feedeth meditation, and the meditation feedeth prayer. These duties must always go hand in hand; meditation must follow hearing and precede prayer. To hear and not to meditate is unfruitful. We may hear and hear, but it is like putting a thing into a bag with holes. ... It is rashness to pray and not to meditate. What we take in by the word we digest by meditation and let out by prayer. These three duties must be ordered that one may not jostle out the other. Men are barren, dry, and sapless in their prayers for want of exercising themselves in holy thoughts.

    William Bates
    <FONT SIZE=-1>Called “that most classic and cultured of the later Puritan preachers“.</FONT>

    What is the reason that our desires like an arrow shot by a weak bow do not reach the mark? But this only, we do not meditate before prayer ...

    William Bridge
    <FONT SIZE=-1>Puritan writer known for his practicality</FONT>

    As it is the sister of reading, so it is the mother of prayer. Though a man’s heart be much indisposed to prayer, yet, if he can but fall into a meditation of God, and the things of God, his heart will soon come off to prayer. ... Begin with reading or hearing. Go on with meditation, end in prayer. ... Reading without meditation is unfruitful; meditation without reading is hurtful; to meditate and to read without prayer upon both is without blessing ...
  4. LittleBluestem

    LittleBluestem New Member

    <FONT FACE="Ariel">
    I asked God for strength that I might achieve;
    I was made weak, that I might learn to serve.
    I asked for health, that I might do great things;
    I was given infirmity, that I might do better things.
    I asked for wealth, that I might be happy;
    I was given poverty, that I might be wise.
    I asked for power, that I might earn the praise of men;
    I was given weakness, that I might feel the need for God.
    I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life;
    I was given life, that I might enjoy all things.
    I got nothing I asked for, but all I hoped for.
    Despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.
    And I am, among all men, most richly blessed.
  5. LittleBluestem

    LittleBluestem New Member

    The following quotes are from the section titled The Struggle of Praying through Suffering
  6. LittleBluestem

    LittleBluestem New Member

    Habakkuk 1:2 (NASB)

    How long, O Lord, will I call for help,
    And Thou wilt not hear?
    I cry out to Thee, “Violence!”,
    Yet Thou dost not save.
  7. LittleBluestem

    LittleBluestem New Member

    Matthew 26:36-44 (New International Version)
    <FONT SIZE=-1>Christ praying in Gethsemane immediately before His arrest and crucifixion.</FONT>

    Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me."

    Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will."

    Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. "Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?" he asked Peter. "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak."

    He went away a second time and prayed, "My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done."

    When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.
  8. LittleBluestem

    LittleBluestem New Member

    The following quotes are from the section titled The Struggle of Enduring God's Hiddenness
  9. LittleBluestem

    LittleBluestem New Member

    Psalm 13:1-2a (New American Standard Bible)
    <FONT SIZE=-1>A psalm of David</FONT>

    How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever?
    How long will You hide Your face from me?
    How long shall I take counsel in my soul,
    Having sorrow in my heart all the day?[This Message was Edited on 07/06/2008]
  10. LittleBluestem

    LittleBluestem New Member

    Inscription on the Walls of a Cellar in Cologne, Germany, where Jews Hid from Nazis

    I believe in the sun even when it is not shining.
    I believe in love even when feeling it not.
    I believe in God even when He is silent.
  11. LittleBluestem

    LittleBluestem New Member

    The following quotes are from the section titled The Struggle of Dealing with Unanswered Prayer
  12. LittleBluestem

    LittleBluestem New Member

    Psalm 22 (New American Standard Bible)
    <FONT SIZE=-1>A Cry of Anguish and a Song of Praise. A Psalm of David.</FONT>
    1 My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?
    Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning.
    2 O my God, I cry by day, but You do not answer;
    And by night, but I have no rest. </PRE>
  13. LittleBluestem

    LittleBluestem New Member

    St. John of the Cross, Why Are You Waiting?
    <FONT SIZE=-1>(1542-1591) Spanish mystic best known for The Dark Night of the Soul</FONT>

    Lord God, my beloved, if You still remember my sins, and so withhold the blessing for which I yearn, I beg You either to punish me as I deserve, or to have mercy on me. If You are waiting for me to behave well and do good to others, then give me the strength and the will to act as You want.

    Why are You waiting? Why do You delay in pouring out the love for which I yearn? How can I behave well and love others, if You do not strengthen and guide me? How can I be worthy of You, if You do not make me worthy? How can I rise up to You, if You do not raise me up?

    Surely You will not take from me the grace which You gave me in your dear Son Jesus Christ? Surely the love which He revealed to all mankind will be granted to me? Why are You waiting?

    I give You my life, my all! Why are You waiting to receive it?
  14. LittleBluestem

    LittleBluestem New Member

    2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (New International Version)

    To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
  15. LittleBluestem

    LittleBluestem New Member

    Some Pray and Die

    I wish that people would stop writing about people who pray on rafts and get rescued. Because they don’t all get rescued.

    We had prayed together before the alter, a young pilot and his chaplain. They he had climbed into his ship and flown away toward the desert with God’s blessing and peace in his heart. But I must tell my story as I saw it. It had a sad ending, in a way: for the plane crashed and the young pilot was killed. Only those who believe in certain things as he did could see the part that wasn’t sad. He was in God’s grace. He was prepared. He was ready to meet death, and that is not sad but glorious.

    Is there such a thing as getting the “breaks” in prayer? What about the fellows who pray regularly, but get killed regularly? What was wrong with their prayers? ...

    What I want to know is this: what sort of extra-special, super-powered prayer is needed to make everything turn out the way you want it? That sound facetious, almost irreverent, but I’m serious. I’m an Army chaplain, and I could use some special prayers with my men - and, heaven knows, we need them badly at times. Because the fact is there are always more me who pray to come back than there are men who get back. Quite a lot more. What is the deciding factor?

    The thing for all of us to remember is this: someone else does the answering. Prayer must be distinguished from a monologue. Prayer is always a dialog. Prayers are answered by God. Otherwise you are only talking to yourself, and that’s not good. What you have in mind may not be what God has in mind. If you ask him something, you must be ready and willing to take what he gives. Without that as a basis of understanding, the whole business becomes ridiculous.

    ... That is why I am a bit depressed by the writings of those who try to get other people to pray by telling them you get what you want. People must learn to want what they get. [“success stories” in prayer] tend to create a false impression that God saves some and lets others go. If all the rubber rafts were picked up, of course, there wouldn’t be any problem. I may be a little stubborn about this, but I can’t help thinking of all the men who pray and don’t come back.

    So when I talk to soldiers about prayer I try to tell them that they must be adults. God expects us to be men. Only children demand a happy ending to every story. How old must we be before we begin to realize that every prayer can’t get us everything we want, unless the thing we want is right for us to have? For grown-ups know only too well that there is much of life that appears to have an unhappy ending. It needn’t be unhappy unless we make it so.

    Who gets the breaks in prayer? Nobody. There is no such thing. We get what God in His infinite love and foreknowledge sees fit to give. That’s not always the same as getting what we want. But it ought to be. . . .
  16. LittleBluestem

    LittleBluestem New Member

    Luke 18:1-8a, The Parable of the Persistent Widow
    <FONT SIZE=-1>(New King James Version)</FONT>

    Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, saying: “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’”

    Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily.[This Message was Edited on 08/03/2008]
  17. LittleBluestem

    LittleBluestem New Member

    George MacDonald, Commentary on the Parable of the Persistent Widow
    <FONT SIZE=-1>(1824-1905) Scottish pastor, poet, and novelist.</FONT>

    In the very structure of the parable [the Lord] seems to take delay for granted, and says, notwithstanding, “He will [avenge] them speedily!”

    The reconciling conclusion is that God loses no time, though the answer may not be immediate.

    He may delay because it would not be safe to give us at once what we ask: we are not ready for it. To give ere we could truly receive would be to destroy the very heart and hope of prayer, to cease to be our Father. The delay itself may work to bring us nearer to our help, to increase the desire, perfect the prayer, and ripe the receptive condition.

    Again, not for any straitening in God, but either from our own condition and capacity, or those of the friend for whom we pray, time may be necessary to the working out of the answer. God is limited by regard for our best; our best implies education; in this we must ourselves have a large share; this share, being human, involves time. And perhaps, indeed, the better the gift we pray for, the more time is necessary to its arrival.

    To give us the spiritual gift we desire, God may have to begin far back in our spirit, in regions unknown to us, and do much work that we can be aware of only in the results. . . .

    To [avenge] speedily must mean to make no delay beyond what is absolutely necessary, to begin the moment it is possible to begin. Because the Son of Man did not appear for thousands of years after men began to cry out for a Savoir, shall we imagine He did not come the first moment it was well He should come? Can we doubt that to come a moment sooner would have been to delay, not to expedite, His kingdom? For anything that needs a process, to begin to act at once is to be speedy. God does not put off like the unrighteous judge; He does not delay until irritated by the prayers of the needy. He will hear while they are yet speaking; yea, before they call He will answer.
  18. LittleBluestem

    LittleBluestem New Member

    Lamentations 3:19-32
    <FONT SIZE=-1>(New International Version)</FONT>

    <FONT SIZE=+1><PRE>
    I remember my affliction and my wandering,
    the bitterness and the gall.
    I well remember them,
    and my soul is downcast within me.
    Yet this I call to mind
    and therefore I have hope:

    Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
    They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
    I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him."

    The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,
    to the one who seeks him;
    it is good to wait quietly
    for the salvation of the LORD.
    It is good for a man to bear the yoke
    while he is young.

    Let him sit alone in silence,
    for the LORD has laid it on him.
    Let him bury his face in the dust—
    there may yet be hope.
    Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him,
    and let him be filled with disgrace.

    For men are not cast off
    by the Lord forever.
    Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,
    so great is his unfailing love.
  19. LittleBluestem

    LittleBluestem New Member

    The following quotes are from the section titled The Struggle of Wrestling with our Humanity
    The following subsections are all copyrighted material, so I had to skip them:
    The Struggle of Reluctance
    The Struggle of Emotional Ups and Downs
    The Struggle of Persistence
    The Struggle of Impatience
    The Struggle of Complacency
    The Struggle of Fatigue
    The Struggle of Transparency
    The Struggle of Intimacy
    The Struggle of Self-Centeredness
    The Struggle of Surrendering Self

    It would seem that our humanity is the source of quite a bit of struggle when it comes to prayer!
  20. LittleBluestem

    LittleBluestem New Member

    Andrew Murray, from With Christ in the School of Prayer
    <FONT SIZE=-1>(1828-1917) Influential leader of the nineteenth-century South African Dutch Reformed Church</FONT>

    Christians often complain that private prayer is not what it should be. They feel weak and sinful, the heart is cold and dark; it is so if they have so little to pray, and in that little no faith or joy. They are discouraged and kept from prayer by the thought that they cannot come to the Father as they ought or as they wish.

    Child of God! listen to your Teacher. He tells you that when you go to private prayer your first thought must be: The Father is in secret, the Father waits me there.

    Just because your heart is cold and prayerless, get you into the presence of the loving Father. As a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth you. Do not be thinking of how little you have to bring God, but of how much He wants to give you.

    Just place yourself before, and look up into, His face; think of His love, His wonderful, tender, pitying love. Just tell Him how sinful and cold and dark [it] all is: it is the Father’s loving heart [that] will give light and warmth to yours.

    O do what Jesus says: Just shut the door, and pray to thy Father which is in secret. Is it not wonderful to be able to go alone with God, the infinite God? And then to look up and say: My Father! . . .