Releasing the Power and the Presence of God

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Oswald Chambers said, “there is nothing to be valued more highly than to have people praying for us; God links up his power in answer to their prayers.”

In the past week, I received the blessing of many people praying for me, and for my family.  On Tuesday, March 17, my 82-year old mother suffered a stroke.  I left to be with her a couple of days later.  Immediately, friends and coworkers began praying for Mom, for me, and for our whole family. Before I left, the wonderful people I work with gathered in a circle and prayed for us. During the hours of driving to Arkansas, sitting by her bedside, watching her struggle, improve, and decline all at once, I knew these people were praying for us, and I felt the power of their prayers.

Mom has experienced some healing, and I pray there will be more.  But the blessing of the prayers wasn’t so much in her healing.  There was no disappointment, either with the prayers or with God, when she suffered setbacks.  The blessing of the prayers was in the power and the presence of God we felt.

Another time, Chambers wrote that “the purpose of prayer is to reveal the presence of God.”  That is what happened in my life this past week.  The prayers of friends, family, coworkers and strangers praying on several prayer teams, lifted me up and helped make me aware of God’s presence. Through the touch of the Holy Spirit, I felt the power, and the comfort of Jesus sitting next to me in waiting rooms, at Mom’s bedside, and in the car on the long trip back and forth.

When you say, “I will pray for you,” never doubt the impact your prayers have on that person’s life.  Your prayers reveal the presence of God.

— Jennifer Creagar

St. Patrick’s Day

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Pastor Laurie Barnes writes:

Tuesday, March 17, is the day that we celebrate as St. Patrick’s Day.  I would venture to say that most who spend their day observing St. Patrick’s Day with parades and/or green beer, will not give too much thought to fifth century Bishop Patrick for whom we observe the day.

 

Details of his life are not clear.  It is believed that he was born and raised in Cumberland, England.  At age 16, he and a large number of his father’s family and servants were captured by Irish raiders and taken to Ireland.  For the next six years, Patrick was forced to work as a shepherd and suffered greatly from both hunger and cold.  At age 22, thanks to a vision from God, he was able to escape and went to France.  While in France, Patrick studied in a monastery and felt God’s call to preach the gospel.  At age 43, he was consecrated bishop and left for Ireland to fulfill his vision to be a missionary to the people of Ireland. 

 

Despite much opposition from the pagan druids of Ireland, Patrick proclaimed the gospel in places where the faith had never been preached, obtained the protection of local kings and baptized many converts to Christianity.  Over a period of years, Patrick ordained priests, divided the country into dioceses, held Church councils, founded monasteries and urged his people to greater holiness.   In a relatively short time, Ireland deeply experienced  the Christian spirit and began to send out missionaries from the formerly pagan country of Ireland to Europe. 

 

Recognized as Ireland’s Patron saint, we invite you to consider a few of the writings of Patrick this week as we observe St. Patrick’s Day.

 

From the Breastplate of St. Patrick:

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise, Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, Christ is every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me. 

 

Bedtime Prayer

May your holy angels, O Christ, Son of living God, guard our sleep, our rest, our shining bed.  Let them reveal true visions to us in our sleep, O High Prince of the universe, O great king of the mysteries!  May no demons, no ill, no calamity or terrifying dreams disturb our rest, our willing, prompt rest.  May our watch be holy, our work, our task, our sleep, our rest without let, without break.

 

It is our hope and prayer in Prayer Ministry that you have a joyous day in the Lord on Tuesday March 17 – and all the days this week.  And may you always have a hunger and thirst to learn more about the heroes of our faith tradition.

 

 

 

Dry Spells

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Have you ever hit a “dry spell” in your prayers?  Not a period of unbelief, just a time of feeling like nothing much was happening when you pray, or maybe a time when it seemed particularly difficult to settle in and really enter into the presence of God and communicate.

I grew up in Oklahoma, and I know dry spells.  I know what real drought looks like.  First, no nourishing rain falls for a long time, and everything starts to look a little droopy, yellow and brown.  Then the dry wind blows, and dust and dirt swirl everywhere around you.  In the worst droughts, even the deep wells dry up, and when you go to pump some water, even from deep down where you found it before, you come up with nothing, or dust.  The worst part, which many parts of Oklahoma are experiencing this week, a small spark from somewhere will ignite a fire that destroys everything in its path.  Even the places that don’t burn can be covered in heavy smoke that burns the eyes and takes your breath away.  Dry spells can be very destructive.

During Lent this year, Pastor Laurie is leading a class called Deepening Your Prayer.  This week the class discussed dry spells in our prayer lives, and what might be at the root of them.  Do any of these Obstacles to Prayer lead you to a dry spell and the danger of something destructive happening in your life?

Lack of time. We’re all busy.  Life moves at a crazy pace, and there are always more things to do.  Stopping seems non-productive, so we think we don’t have time to pray. It  helps to think of prayer, not as a stop, or a rest, but as the active meeting with God it truly is.  Jesus was pretty busy, and he took time to step away from the crowds and pray. Put it on your calendar, set a time for this important meeting.

Need for control. John Calvin said, “We must all in our prayers carefully avoid wishing to confine God to certain circumstances, or prescribe to God the time, place or mode of action…”  Often we hit a “dry spell” because of our own need to control the outcomes, and our failure to pray “Thy will be done,” and mean it.  We are afraid of giving up control, afraid of not getting our own way, so we just avoid prayer.

Fear of what we might discover about ourselves, or what God might discover about us
.  We forget that God knows all about us, and loved us enough to die for us anyway.  We also forget that, whatever ugliness we discover about ourselves, Jesus is there to bear it with us, and died to take punishment for our sins.

Prayer itself is the cure for the “dry spells” almost everyone encounters in their prayer life at some time or another.  John Wesley said, “Pray whether you feel like it or not.”  Identify your obstacle and then take it to God in prayer.  Listen more than you talk for a while.  If you don’t feel like your words are going anywhere, just be silent and listen for God, and let the living water flow to end the drought.


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