Praying for your partner

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Prayer is one of the most powerful and transformational of the spiritual disciplines.  When we pray, we commune with the one who created us and formed all that is around us.  Often we gain wisdom, guidance, comfort and humility through prayer.  Scripture also tells us that when we pray God always hears us (1 John 5:14).  So, keeping all of this in mind, is the power of prayer a force in your most intimate relationships?  Are you and your spouse or significant other praying together and, almost more importantly, are your praying for each other and your relationship?  As we focus on forgiveness within intimate relationships this week in worship, I want to invite you to be in prayer for your relationship.  Below is a prayer that I want to encourage you to pray every day this week.  You might pray it together aloud with your partner each morning or evening.  Even if you pray this prayer on your own, I am sure that you will begin to see a transformation in how you look towards your significant other and how they look towards you.

God,

Grant that I and my partner may have a true

and understanding love for each other.

Grant that we may both

be filled with faith and trust.

Give us the grace to live

with each other in peace and harmony.

May we always bear with one another’s weaknesses

and grow from each other’s strengths.

help us to forgive one another’s failings

and grant us patience, kindness, cheerfulness

and the spirit of placing the well-being

of one another ahead of self.

May the love that brought us together

grow and mature with each passing year.

Bring us both ever closer to You

through our love for each other.

Let our love grow to perfection.

Amen.

Pastor Michael Maroon, Pastor of Prayer and Congregational Care

It’s Spring and everything is new…

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Spring is finally here.  Time for new things – new plants in the garden, new schedules as the days grow longer.  Why not try a new prayer practice or style and bring some of that spring newness into your conversation with God?

Do you usually pray quietly, indoors in your special prayer spot?  Try praying out loud, or take your prayers outdoors.  Spring is a great time to try out a prayer walk around your neighborhood or along a path.

Are you a prayer walker who always moves when you pray?  Give stillness a try.  Sit quietly in one place and listen for the Holy Spirit speaking to you in the quiet.

If you always pray in silence, try using music as part of your prayer time.  If you always pray alone, find a prayer partner and pray together on a regular basis.  If you always pray “on the go” (in the car, in the shower, while you are doing something else) set aside some time for nothing but prayer.

Change the time of day when you normally pray, or add another prayer time to your schedule. If you have never used a devotion book or written prayers, try adding those to your prayer time.

Over time, our conversations, praise, worship, requests, and confessions can all become more of a habit and less joyful communion.  As the natural world around us becomes new, a different prayer practice or routine can refresh your spirit and your time with God.

Note:  A good book for exploring different prayer practices and styles is Paths to Prayer by Patricia Brown.

Hearing God’s voice

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I strive to be a conscionable fellow and often rely on the moral compass from within to speak to me.  There are times when I hear can almost hear the voice of my wife, friends, family members or even colleagues speaking to a particular situation.  As I go for that 3rd cookie, In my head I can hear my wife reminding me of our goals we set together to get back into shape.  I can often hear my dad’s many lessons and notes of wisdom speaking to my conscience as I strive to live a life worth living.  Those so called voices of conscience speak to us as if those persons are right there having a conversation with us.  The connection we have with people does not end when they are no longer within earshot.  Why would we expect it to be any different in our relationship with God?

I often hear from people that they wonder if God is even listening because God may not have responded to them in a way that they were expecting.  I was visiting with a congregant the other week and he was sharing with me what he had been praying for and was wondering why God had not responded.  I asked him, “based on what you know about God from scripture, from our United Methodist tradition, from past experiences and through your ability to reason, what do you think God would say to your prayer request if God were right here having a face-to-face conversation with you?”

As he looked at the scenario from God’s perspective, he began to respond to his own prayer as if the Holy Spirit was speaking through him, to him.  Who’s to say it wasn’t the Holy Spirit speaking?  Although it is always good to edify our understanding of God with others, the voice of God does not always begin with an external voice.  God has placed God’s likeness within each of us and has given us the ability to know God’s heart, to be of God’s heart and to speak God’s heart to those around us as well as our selves.  I invite you to try this exercise in your own prayer lives as we all seek to follow the will of God more closely.

Pastor Michael Maroon

Christ’s Lament

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I was reading through the United Methodist Book of Worship and I stumbled upon a section of a Good Friday worship service called, “The Reproaches: Christ’s lament against his faithless Church.”  As I read Christ’s lament, I found myself wanting to respond, but struggling to find the words – all I could come up with is, “I’m sorry, Lord Jesus, have mercy on me.”  Below is Christ’s lament – in your prayer time l, perhaps you might have a prayerful dialogue with God as you read these laments.  It is a lot to read but I hope you are able to set aside 10 minutes for this prayerful devotion in honor of the sacrifice of Christ.

1.       O my people, o my Church, what have I done to you, or in what have I offended you?  I led you forth from the land of Egypt and delivered you by the waters of baptism, but you have prepared a cross for your Savior.

2.       I led you through the desert forty years and fed you with manna; I brought you through times of persecution and of renewal and gave you my body, the bread of heaven; but you have prepared a cross for your Savior.

3.       I made you branches of my vineyard and gave you the water of salvation, but when I was thirsty you gave me vinegar and gall and pierced with a spear the side of your Savior.

4.       I went before you in a pillar of cloud, but you have led me to the judgment hall of Pilate.   I brought you to a land of freedom and prosperity, but you have scourged, mocked, and beaten me.

5.       I gave you a royal scepter, and bestowed the keys to the kingdom, but you have given me a crown of thorns.  I raise you on high with great power, but you have hanged me on the cross.

6.       My peace I gave, which the world cannot give, and washed your feet as a servant, but you draw the sword to strike in my name and seek high places in my kingdom.

7.       I accepted the cup of suffering and death for your sakes, but you scatter and deny and abandon me.  I sent the Spirit of truth to lead you, but you close your hearts to guidance.

8.       I called you to go and bring forth fruit, but you cast lots for my clothing.  I prayed that you all may be one, but you continue to quarrel and divide.

9.       I grafted you into the tree of my chosen people Israel, but you turned on them with persecution and mass murder.  I made you joint heirs with them of my covenants, but you made them scapegoats for your own guilt.

10.   I came to you as the least of your brothers and sisters.  I was hungry but you gave me no food, thirsty but you gave me no drink.  I was a stranger but you did not welcome me, naked but you did not cloth me, sick and in prison but you did not visit me.


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