Taking refuge until the disaster has passed

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This week we will look at Jesus crucifixion through the eyes of his mother, Mary. As a mother, I find this one of the hardest parts of Scripture to read. Mary faced the most horrible sight possible. I’m sure she would have rather hung on that cross herself than see her son hanging there in pain. In the past week, since the terrible earthquake and tsunami in Japan and the aftermath, we have all witnessed people in suffering pain and grief.

What good is prayer in a time of great pain and grief? What use it is to pray when the worst has already happened?

Times of loss or fear, whether seemingly small or so huge our minds can’t quite grasp them, are the times when we most need to connect with the power and eternal love of God, and prayer is how we do that. What do we say in our prayer? Psalm 57:1 says:

Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me,
for in you I take refuge.
I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings
until the disaster has passed.

Ask God to surround you with his love and power, keeping fear, overwhelming pain, and hopelessness outside the safe circle of his love, and comfort, hope, and peace inside that refuge.  By keeping your communication open with God, you will be able to face disaster with God’s all powerful strength, which is always greater than our own. – Jennifer Creagar, Resurrection Prayer Ministry

Responding with the “energies of prayer”

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We say it every time we say the prayer Jesus’ taught his disciples.  “Forgive us our trespasses (sins) as we forgive those who trespass (sin) against us.  Jesus taught us to “love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44).  For most of us, that is a seriously difficult thing to do.

In The Message paraphrase of Matthew 5:43-47 says, “…When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God created selves.”  Who has given you a hard time? Who hurt your feelings recently, either intentionally or unintentionally?  Who got in the way of your goals and desires? Who frustrated you?  Who caused you pain?

Have you prayed for those people?  C.S. Lewis said, “Prayer doesn’t change God, it changes me.”  The truth is, it is often hard to forgive hurts caused by someone else, so even though we know we should forgive them, need to forgive them, our human nature blocks our ability to do that.  Years ago, I was struggling with forgiving someone who had hurt me deeply and intentionally.  I knew I should, but I just couldn’t seem to forgive them the way I know God has forgiven me. A very wise friend asked me, “Do you pray for this person?” I responded that I prayed all the time for the ability to forgive.  “No,” replied my friend, “that’s praying for you. Do you pray for this person – for their health, peace, knowledge of the presence of God in their life?” The answer was no.  It really had not even occurred to me to do it.  So, I started to pray for my enemy.  And just as C.S. Lewis said, it changed me.  Lifting someone else up in prayer brings you closer to them, whether you want it or not. It helps you see that person as God sees them.  All that makes it much easier to forgive them for the times they may have trespassed against you.

The next time you struggle with forgiveness, try responding with “the energies of prayer!”

Jennifer Creagar, The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection Prayer Ministry

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