Monday 24 October 2016

Disappointed Prayer

(journaled April 6, 2016)

"There is no waiting on God for help, and there is no help from God, without watchful expectation on our part." -- C.H. Spurgeon

I know I don't "expect" enough: a lot of the time I don't really expect anything at all, do I?

So many prayers "unanswered" it seems--especially prayers for and by my children. It is not so hard for me to accept "later" or "no" or "different" (which I know from experience means "better") for my own prayers and needs ... but oh, Lord ... It has been hard to see my children disappointed in their prayers and trust in You.

And in their trust in me--so much so that I stopped, as much as possible, "making promises," knowing how little control I have over life's circumstances, not to mention my own weaknesses and forgetfulness and all. But I guess I assumed that when little children come to You, in faith, You would always take care of them, and answer "yes," simply and clearly and lovingly and all. "God answers prayers made in child-like faith." But I'm coming to realize that You don't always answer "yes" even to little children ... because You do love them, and You know what is best--just like I, as a mother, don't always answer "yes," because I know some things are not good for them.

And yes, I am glad that I can say, "Your will be done," because I've learned that my will is usually off track to some degree, no matter how "right" my thoughts seem to me. Though there are some people who say that praying "Your will be done" is a cop-out because I should be "storming heaven's gates" and "claiming God's promises to deliver on prayer requests" and such. But I do want Your will!

Lord, please overcome my children's disappointments (and yes, mine too), and help them learn to trust in You again. Help them to understand that You do know best. Please help them. And me.

Thursday 20 October 2016

Confession and Absolution

(Journaled April 6, 2016)

I think "confession" is something that way too many churches skip over during their gatherings. I think it is really helpful to include prayers of general confession (especially during communion services, but even generally), so people understand the necessity of repentance, and have an example or pattern of how to confess individually. And it does serve as an extra warning, too. It also reminds us of the awesomeness of God's forgiveness and mercy, when we contemplate the truth of our wickedness. I wonder if it gets skipped because it takes too much time, or is considered too "liturgical" or too "ritualistic" ... or perhaps there is a concern that such a confession is too "in your face" and might offend some people. If Communion is really so serious as scripture shows it to be, I think prayers of confession are really helpful, as in this prayer from a past edition of an Anglican prayer book:

"We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, Which we from time to time most grievously have committed, By thought, word, and deed, Against thy Divine Majesty, Provoking most justly thy wrath and indignation against us. We do earnestly repent, And are heartily sorry for these our misdoings; The remembrance of them is grievous unto us; The burden of them is intolerable. Have mercy upon us, Have mercy upon us, most merciful Father; For thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ's sake, Forgive us all that is past; and grant that we may ever hereafter Serve and please thee In newness of life, To the honour and glory of thy Name; Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."

And then there is "absolution." Now maybe some people might think this is too "liturgical," but I think it is very comforting and assuring, especially for those who fear that they are too unworthy of God's forgiveness and love and acceptance.

"Almighty God, our heavenly Father, who of his great mercy hath promised forgiveness of sins to all them that with hearty repentance and true faith turn unto him; Have mercy upon you; pardon and deliver you from all your sins; confirm and strengthen you in all goodness; and bring you to everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."

Monday 17 October 2016

Launch into the Deep

(journaled April 5, 2016)

Every day for the last few weeks I have been praying the "Launch out into the deep" prayer from Streams in the Desert for Feb 29.  And it is building a longing to dive, launch, access the "deep waters" of the Holy Spirit, the deep things of God, the deep of God's Word, of Jesus and His Atonement, of Father's will, of the Holy Spirit, of God's purposes and coming kingdom, of joy with Jesus and his glory.

"Into all these things, Jesus bids us launch. He made us and He made the deep, and to its fathomless depths He has fitted our longing and capabilities."

Yes, dear God, I do "this day claim afresh to be immersed and drenched in these waters of life." Please take me, meet me, fill me, overflow me. Please efface my self, till my eyes are turned and fixed only on my Lord and Savior God--Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit. Please. Amen. Thank You.

Please help me fully give up the shore.

Please clearly show me my own weakness and my need for You completely (and please help me overcome my fear of mankind's disapproval, and my fear of losing my control, and my fear of the pain through which I may well have to pass on this journey with You).

Please help me apprehend the possibilities of my life lived in the deeps with You: please give me your heavenly vision

Please show me what my needs really are. I can be--I am--so blind to my own weaknesses and shortcomings. Please show them to me--and give me Your vision of how all of them, each of them, can be, will be met in Your deeps.

Please, Holy Spirit, open up Your Word to its "crystal fathomless ... ocean meaning."

Please, Holy Spirit, illuminate "Christ's precious blood [so] it becomes an omnipotent balm, and food and medicine for the soul and body."

Please, Father, take me into the depths of Your will, until I "apprehend its infinite minuteness and goodness, and its far-sweeping provision and care for us."

Please take me "into the deep of the Holy Spirit, until be becomes a ... fathomless summer sea, in which ... we lose ourselves and our sorrows in the calmness and peace of his everlasting presence."

Please take me "into the deep of the Holy Spirit, until He becomes a bright, marvelous answer to prayer, the most careful and tender guidance, the most thoughtful anticipation of our need, the most accurate and supernatural shaping of our events."

Please take me "into the deep of God's purposes and coming kingdom, until the Lord's coming and His millennial reign are opened up to us," until my heart is overwhelmed "with inexpressible anticipation of its joy with Jesus and the glory to be revealed."

Oh dear God, dear Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit--into all these things You bid me launch--and today, now, this moment, I am climbing into Your boat and looking forward, asking You to cast off and take me with You into the deeps--no matter what it costs in worldly terms. Please calm my fears and help me place all my trust in You. In Jesus' name, Amen. Thank You, Lord.

Friday 14 October 2016

God's plans prevail

"Cease meddling with God's plan and will. You touch anything of His, and you mar the work .... you may hurry the unfolding of God's will, but you harm and do not help the work.... Leave all to Him. Hands down. Thy will, not mine." --Stephen Merritt

Good advice as I work on my new business schedule and direction. "Many are the plans of a man, but God's purpose prevails!"

Wednesday 12 October 2016

We need Your Hope

(journaled March 19, 2016)

March 19, 2016

Sometimes I feel so depressed. The world seems to get worse day by day, minute by minute. What is the matter with people? Why don't they think? Why don't they care about anything beyond their own happiness in the moment? Where is community? Where are lofty goals and ideals? Where is love--for God and for humanity?

And what is the point, I wonder, of all the stuff I've been studying? I want to help people succeed in their education, and in their writing and publishing. But what is "success"? I don't want to be one of those teachers who is just adding to the "self-affirmation" illness of our society. And illness it surely is; rot from deep inside; and encouraged by those in power who see the truth: that "entertaining the mob" is the way to keep them happy and in control--and empty, vacuous, stupid. Like the Roman mob in the Gladiator film, the fall of the Roman empire, and modern nations and global empires. Trouble is, too, that "dark ages" and chaos come after such falls; and sadly, the rediscovery, the renaissance that then follows seems only to lead to another round of the cycle.

I'm tired. My brain hurts. What, I wonder, will be the positive effect of any of my efforts, of my thinking, my encouragement of others, and my own enthusiasm for learning, exploring, wondering, challenging?

Is there any point, Lord? Are we doomed to endless cycles of hope--and failure? How long does this need to go on? Your mercy and grace is amazing ... but sometimes I wonder if allowing this world to carry on and on is really merciful? I know You see the big picture and I don't. I know scripture warns of things getting worse and worse. I know that the end will come when we're not expecting it, not looking for it.

Yes, we need Your Hope. There IS light at the end of the tunnel! :-)

Monday 10 October 2016

More thoughts on prayers about war

(journaled March 2016)

Last night on CBC radio I heard bits and pieces of a discussion on war, and whether it can be avoided in all situations. It seemed that all agreed that, no matter how abhorrent the killing may be, there are times--mainly in self-defense against an evil, violent, warring adversary (Nazism was given as an example) who will not back down or change their ways--when wars must be fought. I really wish there were better strategies, but I'm afraid that short of "pure pacifism" (which one of the panelists said was, in reality, "indefensible") war is going to be here because of man's nature. Any yet...

I think far too many wars are wrong on every level: wars for territorial expansion, for greed, for power, for imperialism and colonialism, to attain control over oil or other goods, for prestige, for patriotism, to force changes in forms of government or changes in government leaders (especially when done by one nation to another for the reasons just mentioned), religious fanaticism, powerful nations messing around with less powerful nations for personal gain, and so on. Syria has been at it for five years and Assad is still firmly entrenched while the country is ruined and the world is in upheaval with refugee crises, while more and more nations are drawn into the battle and major world powers take sides. Is it worth it? Of course, there are those who would say diplomacy would not unseat Assad. But really, who knows if it isn't tried?

Well, I wrote all the above, because I just read a prayer called "Thanksgiving for Victory" which includes, among other statements, "We bless and magnify thy great and glorious Name for this happy Victory, the whole glory whereof we do ascribe to thee, who are the only giver of Victory ... to thy glory, the advancement of thy Gospel, the honour of our Sovereign, and, as much as in us lieth, to the good of all mankind..." (and more such expressions which make me shudder).

And if "we" don't get "the Victory" and "the other side" does, what then? Did God give them the victory, for His glory and the advancement of the gospel and the good of all mankind? Was our side wrong? If we get the victory, is the other side wrong?

Here's another prayer that is maybe a bit easier to swallow: "O Almighty God, who art a strong tower of defense unto thy servants against the face of their enemies: We yield thee praise and thanksgiving for our deliverance from those great and apparent dangers wherewith we were compassed: We acknowledge it thy goodness that we were not delivered over as a prey to them...."

So it seems like this refers to one of those wars of self-defense against an evil enemy seeking to overtake us (assuming we accept that as a reasonable cause to respond in warfare). But even so, are we ourselves convinced of our own purity and innocence in the whole matter? And if not, if there is a chance that we, too, are in some degree evil, and/or in some degree "to blame"--did we, before going into war, seek God's face in repentance, and determine that after the war is over we will not return to our own evil ways?

Oh, by the way, the prayer ends, "that all the world may know that thou art our Saviour and mighty Deliverer; through Jesus Christ our Lord." Are we really following You, to start with? Were our reasons for joining in the war effort really pure? If our reasons were tainted (and there are many underlying reasons and motivations we go into apparently "just wars" beyond truly altruistic, just reasons), what message does that send to non-believers when we claim that You are our deliverer? Is it even possible that war points people to Christ?

Is winning or losing war even always about "good vs evil"? Is it? Does God jump into every situation? Does God "weigh the balances" in every war? Does He? Really? I believe that, in the end, every knee will bow before Him; but I don't see that in the present world every victory is from God. I do believe, however, that relationship with God can and does grow out of pain and loss. Spiritual victory in physical loss?