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Friday, July 31, 2009

Praying for the Church

We have so many opinions and views regarding the Church, but do we give as much time to praying for the Church as we spend debating its structures, styles, and programs?

Today I read the following prayer for the Church in The Book of Common Prayer (as used in The Episcopal Church, Oxford University Press, New York, 1990). Let us pray these words for the Church worldwide:

“Gracious Father, we pray for thy holy Catholic Church. Fill it with all truth, in all truth with all peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in any thing it is amiss, reform it. Where it is right, strengthen it; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of Jesus Christ thy Son our Savior. Amen.”

Saturating Minds, Filling Hearts, Praying Daily

Have you ever asked the question: how can we influence others to want to get to know Jesus Christ personally? Towards the end of Prayer, The Mightiest Force in the World,Frank Laubach raises this timeless question, and sketches an answer:

“How shall we help all men to know Him? That was Paul’s question, and it still is ours. The greatest way to help Christ conquer the world is to saturate our own minds with Him. We do this by thinking about Christ and His Kingdom as much as we can. If we think about Him we shall inevitably witness for Him and work for Him. Other people will catch Him from us by our deeds and words. ‘Out of the fullness of the heart the mouth speaketh’”(page 97).

“How can we saturate our minds with Christ? There is but one way to get a true picture of Him. That is to read His life in the four Gospels so often that we know it by heart. We who wish to be Christlike ought never to allow a day to pass without reading at least a chapter of the Gospels. We get the best results if we take a definite hour (and a fresh hour) every day.” (page 98).

In the final pages of Prayer, Laubach challenges his readers to give time, and heart and mind and soul and strength and prayer to God’s world task . . .He writes that we must think thoughts worthy of the sons and daughters of God. He concludes his practical call to prayer with a prayer of his own that we would do well to pray in our day:

“God, use my prayer to help the delegates and officials of the United Nations to feel a sense of awful need for Thy wisdom. May they pray, listen to Thee intently, hear Thee correctly, and obey Thee perfectly. Use my prayer to give Christians everywhere a sense of awful responsibility to pray, to listen to Thee and hear Thee right, and obey Thee fully. Use me as an open channel for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon mankind” (page 126-127).

Monday, July 13, 2009

Friends . . . With the Breath of Kindness . . .

I’ve been thinking a lot about friendship lately. Several personal health-related experiences, the debate on the pros and cons of the latest “social media” technologies, and watching personal friends work through challenging relationships, these are some of the sparks that prompted my thinking about friends and friendship.

One favorite quotation that I first heard many times many years ago surfaced often as I mused about the meanings of friendship in today’s world. I thought this quote was specifically a quote on friendship, but thanks to a Google search and a quick check on Wikipedia, I learned that it was first published in Dinah Mulock’s novel, A Life for a Life, published in 1859.

150 years later Dinah Mulock’s words aptly describe what happens when real-world friends engage honestly with each other:

“Oh, the comfort--the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person —
having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words,
but pouring them all right out,
just as they are,
chaff and grain together;
certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them,
keep what is worth keeping,
and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.”