8 Words to Rescue Your Prayer Life

hard-to-pray1I suck at praying.

Perhaps no pastor struggles so seriously to humbly and persistently place himself at throne of grace as the fool penning this post.

In the realm of prayer, I am consistently inconsistent and faithfully unfaithful.

Don’t get me wrong: If I tell you that I will pray for you, my conscience will force me to do so. I’m not fake; I’m just weak.

Recently my desire to be a better pray-er has grown more desperate. I have been casting hooks into every pond I can find, in the hope of discovering some rhythm or technique that provide me a way forward. Journaling, silence, Lectio Divina, listening prayer, the daily office, prayer guides, praying scripture – if there is a way to try it, there is a way to screw it up. Trust me. On this I am an authority. Yet I am trying.

Suffice it to say that I am currently being guided by a prayer tool Intended to help me fall into a steady march (consistency), while also providing me words to pray (content).

Last night, I was given this phrase to pray:

“Let my bones be steeped in your love.”

Oh.

My.

Lord.

If a prayer life can be built around eight words, I may have just found them. For real. Here’s why I think you should also consider making this single sentence your own.

“Let my bones be steeped in your love.”

bones insideThere’s something unusually earthy about bones. When I was 19, I discovered a skeleton on a canoe trip. It was in a remote cave, and who knew how long it had been there! That’s the thing about bones. They last. A long time. Skin and tissue and muscle break down and fade away — and what gets left behind? Bones! Or consider cancer reports. News of spots or tumours or lumps can be followed up with optimism over treatment options. But sometimes the voice adds, “It’s moved to her bones.” Replies get quieter, if spoken at all. What gets into the bones is there to stay.

Beyond their resilience to decay, bones are wondrously and simultaneously lightweight and strong, fairly key qualities for an effective skeleton. Check out the inside of a bone, and you see part of the secret — they appear sponge-like, slightly resembling the porous center of a Crunchie bar.

“Let my bones be steeped in your love.”

steepingFor the vast majority of us, “steeping” is a tea term. It speaks of a soaking that extracts flavour or mixes substances. Within the prayer above, God’s love is part of the recipe. In fact, there are only two ingredients. The other? My bones!

My Crunchie-bar bones are to take their place in the vats of God’s love. A soaking is to take place, so intense in time and temperature that my inner texture and tone change — just as a wet sponge appears so obviously unlike a dry sponge. The soaking invites fullness and overflow. Something of God’s core — His faithful and enduring love — pours over me as I pore over it. Yet this “poring” is deeper than intellectual consideration, as if a few moments of thought might deliver me into the greatest mystery of the universe — divine love. Remember, this is “steeping”. Tea doesn’t try. Hot water doesn’t clutch and grab flavour and nutrients from the leaves it holds. Those same leaves don’t push and press to facilitate the transfer. Tea doesn’t strain. Tea just steeps. It settles in and sits. If tea breathed, it would breathe deeply and slowly, as if each breath had subtle yet sufficient power to help the steeping take place.

The whole prayer begins with “let”. There is recognition of a somewhat passive posture. We cannot make this happen. One cannot steep by force. It’s gifted and given, not even like a box one unwraps from which an item removed and enjoyed. Once again, this is steeping. Two substances unwind into each other, with surrender and vulnerability. An undoing takes place toward a “new doing”. This gift is given and opened insofar as we are given and opened.

“Let my bones be steeped in your love.”

Allow the core of my being, the lasting and living frame within the person that I am, steadily soak up the empowering and enabling reality of Your love, Father. Free me from “frantic” and insulate me from “insecure” by filling the cavities of my inner chambers with revelation of Your affectionate faithfulness.

“Let my bones be steeped in your love.”

Can eight words rescue your prayer life? That’s tough to say. Would you experience a rebirth of sorts if your bones were steeped in God’s love? That seems like a given. You’ve got one mouth. Now you’ve got one sentence. Perhaps you’re perfectly set up for what needs to happen next in your prayer life.

Steep away, my friends!

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailYOUR TURN: Your input makes this post better!

  • What have you tried in the way of “prayer experiments”? What helped? What didn’t?
  • Any particular prayers or phrases that help you focus?

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Introducing Christopher Georges

Some time ago, I was hunting for some music that might be ideal during quiet times of prayer. Frequently called “soaking music”, this genre can quickly overwhelm the newbie with unfamiliar titles and artists. Allow me to share an unearthed gem with the rest of you.

Christopher Georges is a gifted musician, creating beautifully meditative pieces. Two of his tracks are each 30 minutes long, creating great atmosphere for significant chunks of time. Those tracks can be purchased on iTunes for $10 each. Even better, Christopher has posted both tracks on YouTube!

So the next time you are online and in need of some musical focus, hit play on one of the videos below, and be grateful for a faithful servant named Christopher. 🙂

Praying With Gratitude

[In my January 1, 2015 post, I christened this the “Year of Learning” here on the blog. Each post, I’ll aim to share something recently discovered (or re-discovered) in the hope that you might add my learning to your own discoveries and make double-moves forward and upward this year!]

In her book “Jesus Calling“, Sarah Young shares these reflections on prayer as if being spoken by Jesus himself:

“When you bring me prayer requests, lay out your concerns before me. Speak to me candidly; pour out your heart. Then thank me for the answers that I have set into motion long before you can discern the results. When your requests come to mind again, continue to thank me for the answers that are on the way. If you keep on stating your concerns to me, you will live in a state of tension. When you thank me for how I am answering your prayers, your mindset becomes much more positive. Thankful prayers keep your focus on my presence and my promises.”

Man Holding Pray Word In PalmWhile I know the feeling of need that drives a person to voice prayer requests repeatedly, I believe that Sarah is onto something here, when she considers the way in which repetitious requesting impact our hearts.

She describes a feeling of tension. Within Scripture, Jesus advises us that a type of prayer is available to us – a type of prayer that looks considerably different than pagan prayers in which words and wishes are repeated tirelessly. He urges us to pray out of an assumption that our hearer is a thoroughly good Father, who is well aware of what we need but enjoys our asking all the same.

And this is why gratitude within prayer is so key. It rescues our tone from resembling a slave begging for favour from a stingy master, and it frees us to come as a deeply loved child comes to a kind father.

Gratitude helps us pray to the real God, out of who we really are before Him.

And that is something I need to learn over and over.

[On an aside, my 6-year-old determined what image I should use today. Count this as our first joint effort on the blog. :-)]

Thursday Thanks (86-90)

fiveMy lack of posting recently would suggest that I’m an ungrateful ingrate. My post today, at the very least, is intended to show that I am not entirely so. Back on the gratitude horse!

Each week (I aim for Thursday), I’ll use this space to list five things (items, experiences, people, whatever) for which I’ve been recently grateful. Consider it my “blessings count”. Ann Voskamp’s famous challenge to list 1000 gifts seemed daunting — I’m committing to 500, a task which will take me well over two years to complete at my current rate!

1) Warmth
While I hear snow is headed our direction today, we are enjoying an unusually mild Fall. It is a true pleasure!

2) Costumes
For Halloween, our family had two Rapunzels and one Winnie the Pooh, possibly the three cutest trick-or-treaters I have seen.

3) Braces
Every week I join a mostly-younger crew of men for some basketball. Certain pieces of my body are falling apart, and I am grateful that other human beings have constructed clever devices to hold together the joints of this guy!

4) Help
Whether it is the small hands of my daughter helping me bag leaves or the grown-up hands of a crew cleaning up after a Fall Supper last night, it is a simple pleasure to tackle tasks with other people. Don’t underestimate the blessing of teamwork!

5) Chocolate Milk
Every so often, my sweet wife drops a special treat in the shopping cart. Has a finer drink been invented?

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailYOUR TURN: Your input makes this post better!

  • Did any of this week’s list especially strike a chord with you?
  • What’s one thing you’re particularly grateful for this week?

[You can subscribe to this blog via RSS or email, in the upper right corner of this page.]

Thursday Thanks (81-85)

fiveEach week (I aim for Thursday), I’ll use this space to list five things (items, experiences, people, whatever) for which I’ve been recently grateful. Consider it my “blessings count”. Ann Voskamp’s famous challenge to list 1000 gifts seemed daunting — I’m committing to 500, a task which will take me two years of weekly posts to complete!

As a child, I heard a story about a tortoise who won his race. I’m on that pace, trying to be equally persistent.

1) Travel
Last weekend afforded me the chance to be part of a conference in Toronto with a number of other pastors from around the nation. It is a real treat to see new places and take in new experiences.

2) Hugs
Our three little girls love to snuggle, and this Dad loves that they do!

3) Ribs
A recent meal with friends provided me with a menu that included BBQ ribs. And I needed little drive to place my order!

4) Basketball
Last night I played competitive basketball for the first time in nearly a decade. I was thrilled at how fun it was, sobered by how below-average I am, and alert to how many very sore muscles I had this morning.

5) Painting
Next week, I’ll spend part of day painting what will become a prayer room in our church. There is a special pleasure to the task of putting fresh colour on walls. Looking forward to it!

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailYOUR TURN: Your input makes this post better!

  • Did any of this week’s list especially strike a chord with you?
  • What’s one thing you’re particularly grateful for this week?

[You can subscribe to this blog via RSS or email, in the upper right corner of this page.]

Thursday Thanks (71-75)

fiveEach week (I aim for Thursday), I’ll use this space to list five things (items, experiences, people, whatever) for which I’ve been recently grateful. Consider it my “blessings count”. Ann Voskamp’s famous challenge to list 1000 gifts seemed daunting — I’m committing to 500, a task which will take me two years of weekly posts to complete!

Here are the most recent entries on my list:

1) Camp
Much of the past week was spent at Bible Camp with 22 teenagers. The rest of this list will likely feature facets of that wonderful experience.

2) Fire
There is something special about a campfire — I could simply watch one for hours. Add in calm nights, special songs, heartfelt prayers, and the gathering of friends — that’s a pretty special time — night after night after night.

3) Prayer
One activity at camp involved prayer stations. I’m always amazed at how quick-to-engage the teens are in these very focused times that inevitably provide one of my camp highlights.

4) Sun
I’ve been helping at camp nearly 15 years straight. We’ve never had a rain-free week… until this year. Sun, sun, and more sun. I nearly forgot where I was!

5) Leaders
Perhaps the key ingredient to a successful camp is the team of leaders. And this year’s was wonderful: filled with friends that I enjoy and folks who did their jobs so well, while loving the campers in some really sweet ways. Well done!

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailYOUR TURN: Your input makes this post better!

  • Did any of this week’s list especially strike a chord with you?
  • What’s one thing you’re particularly grateful for this week?

[You can subscribe to this blog via RSS or email, in the upper right corner of this page.]

Six-Pack (70)

Welcome to the Six-Pack!

After a long stretch of rain and cloud, the past week has been “real summer” on the prairies — bring on a handful of great links!

If a half-dozen directions feels daunting, start with the *Picks of the Week*, and branch from there.

For a steady stream of such links, follow me on Twitter to the right of this post.  Sharp quotes and solid articles are tweeted 3-4 times daily.

Today’s edition:

1) Cultivating Faithfulness in a Culture of Efficiency (*PICK OF THE WEEK*)
J.R. Briggs has a new book that I’m excited to read. Missio Alliance has this post, adapted from one of its chapters.

2)  My Name is Mike, and I’m a Recovering True Believer (*PICK OF THE WEEK*)
Mike Anderson was once high up in Mars Hill Church. Here’s why he isn’t anymore. Please note that I have no particularly strong feelings on Mars Hill or Mark Driscoll; this article is a fascinating read all the same, of one man’s perceptions from inside such a large church/organization.

3)  Farewell to the Golden Age
Philip Yancey has long been one of my most influential authors. Here he looks back on his writing career and notes profound changes in the industry.

4)  Contemplative Prayer: A Cure for Ministerial Burnout
Tony Campolo shares this post on the blog of Contemplative Journal.

5) People Prefer Electric Shocks to Being Left with Their Own Thoughts
If you’ve ever wondered why sitting quietly in prayer or meditation is so hard, this piece from The Atlantic may help decode your insides.

6)  Sitting and Thinking About Sitting and Thinking
Psychology Today got hold of the study mentioned in #5 — here’s their take on the findings.

May your week ahead be filled with life, as you seek the One from whom it flows!

leaveacommentYOUR TURN: Your input makes this post better!

  • Which link above was today’s best-of-the-best?
  • Why that one?

Direct others to the best of the bunch with a quick comment.

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