Category Archives: Prayer

40 Days for Life

Friday I went out to Pray at the Garden of Hope across from “Reproductive Services” at 32nd pl near Sheridan in Tulsa. I was amazed at how many cars arrived or left during the 45 minutes I was there. I spent time praying for the women who feel like they have no choice but to abort, praying for the souls of the infants, praying that the Holy Spirit would intervene and bring them out safely. Continue reading

Finding Freedom: Part II – What Forgiveness Is… And Is Not

 
"This, then, is how you should pray:
‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’ For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins."

Matthew 6:9-15

Jesus, it seems, was pretty serious about our forgiving those who wrong us. He put some pretty strong conditions on forgiving, tying our own forgiveness to how we forgive.

We have established that God is not a tyrant, and as such will never ask us to do something that is not in our capacity to do. Unlike Pharaoh in the Old Testament, requiring more bricks, but providing less material, God will always provide for the task he calls us to. Through the grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ, we can offer forgiveness!

But forgiveness is hard! When we even think about forgiving “that person” the pain returns and the wound feels as though it were just inflicted. All of the emotion returns, and try as we might, we just cannot bring ourselves to release them.

It is important for us at this point to properly define what forgiveness is, and what it is not. We often withhold forgiveness, simply because we do not understand what it means to forgive.

Forgiveness is: releasing my right to be angry and/or bitter toward a person for the wrong they committed and releasing the outcome to God.

Forgiveness is not: treating the event like it never happened. Forgiveness does not mean that you were never hurt; it does not imply that the offense didn’t matter, or that it was insignificant. Forgiveness recognizes the depth of the wound, acknowledges the seriousness of the offense, and then chooses to relinquish the outcome to God.

Forgiveness is not: reconciliation. Though there may be a time when God nudges you to seek reconciliation; and though reconciliation may sometimes flow naturally out of forgiveness, they are not synonymous. In fact, there are certain circumstances where reconciliation is either impossible, or unhealthy. In circumstances where the person has died, or dropped off the map, it is not possible to reconcile, and in cases of abusive relationships, it would not be healthy to re-enter into those relationships. Forgiveness does not seek to reconcile, it only seeks to release our bitterness and control of the outcome.

Homework this week: Write or revisit a list of names of those whom you have not forgiven, and write their offense next to their name. Pray that God would give you the grace to forgive. Then, one by one, choose to forgive.

Below is a forgiveness template that I have found useful. Imagine that person in the room with you and address the offender out loud.

(Name), you hurt me very deeply when you X____. But (Name), by an act of my will, I choose to forgive you for X_____. God, would you forgive me for holding onto this offense for so long. Help me to walk in the freedom that true forgiveness offers me.

Finding Freedom: Part I

“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” – Mark 11:25

Last week we spoke about the “one” choice. If you missed it, go dig through the archives to the left of the screen. After we’ve made the choice to obey, every other choice is either made for us, or put into proper perspective.

Since we’ve made the choice to obey, let us look at the second most difficult choice we will ever make—the choice to forgive.

Before we go any further, though, I would like to revisit the idea of forgiveness. Our culture has relegated forgiveness to an emotional response. We are told that it is only when we have “cooled down” enough, or when the pain has subsided that we can forgive. This picture of forgiveness is nothing but a lie. If we could not forgive until such time as we “felt ready” then God would be a tyrant for commanding us to do something we were incapable of doing. Like worship and love, forgiveness is an act of the will; not an emotional response.

Now that we are faced with the choice to forgive, why should we? Primarily, this comes back to obedience to God’s commands. If we made the choice to follow God no matter what the cost, then we must obey God’s leading. But why would God call us to forgive those who have hurt us so deeply? It is because of God’s deep love for us! God wants us to find freedom, and unforgiveness is one of the darkest prisons we will ever face.

When we refuse to forgive, it is not the one who offended that is affected, it is we who were hurt that are trapped, chained, and beaten by the recurring nightmare of our pain. It is only when we obey, and forgive, that the chains of bitterness, and the whip of anger dissolve. It is then that we find peace and freedom. This is God’s desire for us, and the reason for the command.

Homework this week: Write a list of names of those whom you have not forgiven, and write their offense next to their name. Pray that God would give you the grace to forgive. Then, one by one, choose to forgive.

Below is a forgiveness template that I have found useful. Imagine that person in the room with you and address the offender out loud.

(Name), you hurt me very deeply when you X____. But (Name), by an act of my will, I choose to forgive you for X_____. God, would you forgive me for holding onto this offense for so long. Help me to walk in the freedom that true forgiveness offers me.

Next week we will further examine forgiveness with “What Forgiveness Is…And Is Not.”

Attacking Anxiety!

Have you ever been stressed? Ever been a little anxious? Me too. The things that weigh us down can be as small as trying to make something fit into our schedules, to as big as the health of a loved one. But no matter what things weigh us down; God has a better way to handle our stress. “Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.” -Philippians 4:6

Now I’ve heard this verse a million times, and I would guess that you’ve heard it too, but there is something in here that I think we often miss. “…by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” How well does our God know us? If you are like me, we find it easy to worry even in our prayers. Even as we approach the Prince of Peace we are so overcome by anxiety that we end up pleading with God to meet our needs; but our anxiety, stress and worry are unnecessary! Just a few verses later, Paul tells the Philippians, “My God will fully supply whatever you need, in accord with his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 God knows what the provision for our need is before we even ask!

This week’s homework: Don’t worry! Be thankful! Make your requests known to God through thankful prayer.

Still With Me?

Vacations, movies & other forms of entertainment, work, soccer games & dance recitals, TV shows, etc. – we are a busy lot! 25 hours a day 8 days a week, we are moving, cramming as many things into our days as possible. In these times of busyness it is easy to neglect an important gift that God has given us: rest.

Rest is important to God, so much so that he modeled it for us in the first story in the Bible! And on the seventh day He rested. But rest is very often a misunderstood concept. Rest is not the same thing as sleeping. Rest is not “vegging out.” Believe it or not, rest actually takes effort!

Everything in our culture sets itself against rest. We have things to do for the times when we aren’t doing anything! Movies, TV, Music, Video Games, and countless other distractions offer us an escape from silence, but it is often in the silence that God meets with us. I am not suggesting that movies, TV, etc are bad. I myself am a movie fanatic! But I am suggesting that we make a concerted effort to rest; that we make time to be still.

In Psalm 131:2, the psalmist describes the process. “I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with his mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.”

What an amazing picture. A weaned child, when resting with its mother, is not there for nourishment sake, it’s there simply to be near mother. The psalmist recognized that it was important for him to seek out God’s presence in those times when he didn’t need anything from God. He needed times of quiet and rest with God; times to simply enjoy God’s presence.

But how do we accomplish this stillness? You know as well as I do that the moment we try to be still, a thousand things instantly come to our mind. We remember the tiniest details that need to be taken care of. Stillness evades us, so how do we calm our souls?

That is this week’s homework. Take a few moments; say ten or fifteen minutes, to be still. Sit down in a chair or on the edge of your bed with your feet flat of the floor. Start with a simple prayer like, “God, I love you, and I’ve come to rest and to be still with you.” Then simply sit in silence, relaxing your shoulders and neck, legs and back. Inevitably thoughts will rush into your mind, vying for attention. As they do, continue your prayer, “God, I give (specific thought) to you, I know that you will take care of it. I choose to be still with you.” And continue in the silence.

Honestly, it may be exhausting the first two or three days you try, because we are not accustomed to being in silence. But if you continue, as you become used to simply “being” in the presence of God, you will find rest for your soul. These next two weeks, let’s seek the peace-filled presence of Christ together. Let’s learn to be still.