Tag Archives: prayer

I Don’t Need 20 Bucks

27 Jul

I Don’t Need 20 Bucks

Prayer is a strange thing.
I wish I could say I understand it, but I don’t.
Despite our lack of understanding, we still pray.
I guess that’s what faith is all about.

I don’t know about you, but I live in a bubble.
Most of my days are insulated away from people who don’t know Christ.
I’ve been praying this would change.
Really praying.
Expectant praying.

You know what? God has been answering.

In just a few weeks we’ve been having crazy awesome experiences.

The other night my wife sent me to a house to buy a cabinet.
It’s not like me to go to some strangers house with a since of expectation that God is doing something, but I did. So did my wife.

The young couple invited me in and took me to the cabinet.
There was pain on their faces.
Even I could see they were in need.
I didn’t want the cabinet, and their faces dropped.
I’m ashamed to say it wasn’t until I was in my car that I realized I don’t need 20 bucks.

I headed back into their house.
“Excuse me, I know this may sound weird, but I want you to have this 20 bucks.”
I should have bought their cabinet to help insulate them from shame, but God knows.
Regardless, they seemed thankful.
“Can I be praying for you for anything,” I asked?
She said, “yes.”

Call me silly, but I think that encounter only happened because of prayer.

At least, I think because of prayer I actually realized the need.

People desperately need to hear the words of life.

I got back in my car and wept.

I prayed.

And I realized, I don’t need 20 bucks.

What is it you are expectantly praying for?

1 Thing

15 Jul

One thing, can it really change anything?

It can, I’m proof.

One little change to a daily routine can send ripples through eternity.

One rock can change the current of a river.

One change can transform a marriage.

One change can bring a family closer.

One change can reveal the power of God.

One change can unlock the mysteries of heaven.

One change can radically alter the outcome of a life.

One change can redirect an army.

One change can turn the tide in a war.

One change can lead you down a different path.

One change can save a life.


What is this one change?


It started with a slumber.

The end effect was rage.

A lie had held us captive and screamed, you can never change!

The odds seemed overwhelming.

The list was far to long.

But HOPE was ever stirring, and LOVE had come with dawn.

Like a raindrop in an ocean, a tiny change proposed.

Lives forever altered by one change, this I know.

One change can rejoice heaven.

One change can enrage hell.

One change can change everything, but who can ever tell?



If you liked 1 Thing, check out This Mess.




12 Jul


Today I’m going to live.
Today I’m going to do something I don’t usually do just to do it.
Today when I go to the sushi place, I’m not going to order the teriyaki bowl-you know, because I hate sushi, but I’m ordering sushi.
Today I’m going to gag.
Today I’m going to look people in the eyes as I walk down the street.
Today I’m going to believe the best.
Today I’m going to fail and believe the worst.
Today I’m going to believe the best again.
Today I’m going to laugh.
Today in going to make fun of something I shouldn’t.
Today I’m going to feel bad I made fun of something I shouldn’t.
Today I’m going to wish I wouldn’t of posted that thing on Facebook.
Today when that guy at Walmart tells me how horrible his life is, I’m going to ask him if I can pray for him.
Today I’m actually going to pray for him.
Today I’m going to hope-the bible kind of hope.
Today I’m going to believe God CAN.

What are you doing today?

I actually ordered this!


Okay, I lied. I ordered this.


The proof I ate it.



Anniversary Dates You Didn’t Know Existed

18 Apr

Last night my wife and I brought our 1 year old over to some friends house for dinner. As new parents we are always freaked out about other peoples things since our little girl could careless about stuff and just wants to put it all in her mouth or throw it on the floor. Thankfully, last night was the perfect house to bring her since their living room was showcased with stuffed animals, Build-A-Bears to be exact, and a small wooden rocking chair placed in the dinning area just for her riding enjoyment. As my daughter man handled ever animal she could get her grips on, we soon discovered that every bear came with a story. Most of the animals were gifts, and after further conversation we realized they were anniversary gifts at that. Now, as a newlywed, I’ve discovered that the term ‘anniversary’ has a very loose definition that no man on the planet can define or fully comprehend. Remember that time in sixth grade when they separated the boy’s and girl’s to give you the ‘big talk,’ and each gender was wondering what in the world the other was hearing about. Well, I ‘m convinced that in that class all little girls were informed of anniversary dates that should be adhered too in a marriage relationship. These are not dates that will come up until after the wedding bells, so don’t try to figure them out before the big day. Remember these dates or suffer the consequences.

1. The First Date: I decided to start with an easy one. The first date is a no brainer, right? Well, this would be the case if you knew the first date. The fact is, you only think you know the first date. In her mind the first date actually started two days before the actual date. Why, you might ask? Well, remember that time you and her were out with a bunch of friends. You didn’t classify it as a date, but believe me, she did. If you don’t remember this date, which you won’t because you don’t even know when it is, you will be in the dog house. Good luck.

2. The First Time You Met: I bet you didn’t realize this was an anniversary. It is. Don’t make the mistake of over looking this crucial day, because if you do, you’ll be sleeping on the futon in the kids room. In your mind, this date ranks right up there with the first time you guys ate spaghetti together, but to her it’s the beginning of it all. If you don’t remember this date, find out quick.

3. The First Gift: One day you’re going to walk in the door from work and she is going to hand you a present. Panic will immediately set in because you’ll know you forgot something, and then she’ll remind you of the first present you ever gave her. It’s in this moment you’ll realize this is a special anniversary date you have forgotten. At this point it’s to late to do anything, but by now you’re starting to realize there are a lot of dates you don’t seem to have marked down. If you’re smart you’ll buy a couple presents, wrap them, and keep them in your car. This way you can always say, “Oh, I forgot your present in the car.”

4. The First Time You Met Her Parents: Remember this awkward day? This event is one of the official markers of commitment in her mind, so don’t forget it. The day she invited you over to meet the parents was actually the day you proposed and didn’t know it.

5. The First Time You Talked Marriage: Remember that time you were watching the Princess Bride, and that funny look guy that say’s “Mawage, is what bings us togeber today?” Well, that was your first official conversation about marriage and you totally missed it. I can only pray you don’t forget this while she’s pregnant.

6. The First Time You Talked About Having Kids: This one will be a challenge for you to remember because it wasn’t an actual conversation. You were at Best Buy getting ink for the printer and you saw a cute little kid and said something like, “Wow, that’s a cute little guy. I can’t wait to have kids.” She won’t even have said a word, but that date was just logged into the database in her mind as a new anniversary date you are now expected to celebrate.

7. The First Argument: I know what you’re thinking; why in the world would she remember this day? In her mind, the first argument marks the day your relationship went from being a surface level relationship to one of depth and true love. Forgetting this day is the equivalent of taking off your ring and stomping on it. Don’t do this.

8. The First Time You Didn’t Die: Remember that time you were driving home from her house and you got caught in traffic? You usually always call her to let her know you’re home, but that day you decided you didn’t need too. Well, the second you made the decision not to call was also the second she started thinking you were dead. With every passing minute she planned your funeral and her tragic life without you. Once she had figured out every last detail is when you finally got home and made the call. After an outburst of anger she then book marked that event into her mind as a day to remember forever. You forgot all about it, but she has immortalized the fact that you didn’t die.

9. The First Picture Together: Here is a day no guy remembers. In our digital age, the first picture was likely taken on your iPhone at Chipotle’s, but in her mind is was as significant as any wedding photo. You probably have guacamole on your lip, but she was mentally marking that photo as a day to celebrate.

10. The First Prayer: There is no doubt this was a significant moment, but once again she probably remember it differently than you do. You remember asking God to bless your burrito’s, but she heard was a quote from Pride and Prejudice. “Elizabeth quietly answered “Undoubtedly;” and after an awkward pause, they returned to the rest of the family. Charlotte did not stay much longer, and Elizabeth was then left to reflect on what she had heard.  It was a long time before she became at all reconciled to the idea of so unsuitable a match. The strangeness of Mr. Collins’s making two offers of marriage within three days was nothing in comparison of his being now accepted.  She had always felt that Charlotte’s opinion of matrimony was not exactly like her own, but she had not supposed it to be possible that, when called into action, she would have sacrificed every better feeling to worldly advantage. Charlotte the wife of Mr. Collins was a most humiliating picture! And to the pang of a friend disgracing herself and sunk in her esteem, was added the distressing conviction that it was impossible for that friend to be tolerably happy in the lot she had chosen.” Scary stuff, but that’s the significance of the first prayer.

11. The First Time You Hurt Her Feelings: This day will never be forgotten because you’re a big jerk. End of story.

12. The First Time You Made Up: Need I say more.

13. The First Time Of Her Parents Anniversary: I know, right now you’re saying ‘what?’ Yes, at some point you’re going to celebrate the fact that her parents fell in love and got married. It’s going to confuse you, but go with it. It’s not that you don’t want to celebrate things like this, but you just don’t know what is celebratory and what isn’t. At this point it’s time for you to throw out an anniversary date of your own just to switch things up a bit. This is an opportunity for you to celebrate something like the first ball game you took her too. Once you tell her of the date, she will then inform you that you have the wrong date, and then she will go grab the ticket stub to prove you wrong.

14. The First Time You Made Her Laugh: This is a day she celebrates because once kids come along there is just a lot of crying and sleepless nights. The fact you don’t remember the first time you made her laugh will make her cry though, so be prepared.

15. The First Time You Did The Dishes: Before getting married we only did the dishes once, and that was just to wash off the mold growing on the side of our coffee cup. We probably didn’t even use soap to get it off. So you can appreciate the fact she celebrates this day. The day represents the day you as a man were domesticated and transformed from a disgusting bachelor to a well mannered family man.

16. The First Diaper You Changed: She celebrates this day because of the comic relief involved in it all. For most of us men we had no idea our babies could poop on their heads, let alone poop a sticky paste that is impossible to wipe off. This is the one date you don’t need to remember. She is celebrating this one all on her own.

17. The First Time You Touched: This one isn’t what you think. Remember that time you took her to Starbucks and ordered a triple grande four raw sugar soy latte for her, which she takes to sips of, and when you handed her the cup your fingers brushed. You didn’t think anything of it, but she immediately went to the bathroom and tweeted sixteen of her friends about the encounter. I hope you enjoyed that touch because during pregnancy her favorite words will be, “Don’t touch me.”

18. The First Time You Held Hands: Finally, a day you can understand, kind of anyway.

19. The First Time You Danced: 90% of men try with all their might to erase this moment from their memory, but she won’t let you. She might even make you dance in the living room. No doubt you have forgotten the moves you learned for your wedding, but don’t worry, she’ll remind you.

20. ?

What’s the craziest thing you’ve celebrated?

Careful Prayer: Did I Really Do That?

27 Mar

Prayer is a tricky thing. It’s one of the hardest things in the universe to understand, ranking right up there with understanding the Trinity. Prayer has always seemed like this allusive thing that I could never quite get right, and then when I thought I had it figured out, I’d get what I want-or at least what I thought I wanted. Let me explain.

Have you ever really wanted something so bad you couldn’t stop thinking about it. It was the winter of 1997 when I pulled up to a farmers house to finish some work on his property that I first noticed it. It was canary yellow and boy was it candy to my eye’s. I couldn’t stop staring at the curves of the fenders and the chrome on the wheels. Then there was the half moon windows with the half moon stickers. This truck was designed and engineered before the foundations of the Earth to be mine. The only problem of course was the price tag. It’s not like it mattered that the sticker price was $5,000, because I had exactly zero bucks in my pocket. I was driving in around in an orange 1970 Pinto that had a mind of its own. I’m convinced that car was demon possessed with a spirit of embarrassment so the lure of this beautiful truck was all the more enticing. Every time I pulled up somewhere and proceeded to turn off the car, that orange demon would spit, cough, and chug for minutes after turning the key. With each chug, I slid lower in the seat towards the floor. I knew I was gaining character, but I thought surely God could teach me character in a yellow 1956 Chevy truck. As I left the farmers house that day a thought struck me, I just need to pray for it. It was from this experience I learned the necessity’s of prayer.

Prayer and Praise:

On my drive home that day I started rehearsing in my head all the things I had heard about prayer. I had once heard someone say that praise is the highest form of prayer. I had recounted 2 Chronicles chapter 20 where Jehoshaphat was told to march out in front of a giant army, which he had no possible way of beating, and begin to praise God. God told him that the battle was not his, but the Lords. Hmm, my mind was firing now. I just need to praise God and that will bring down legions of angels to come and fight over the powers at bay that were trying to keep that beautiful truck from me. I then proceeded to sing Jesus freak at the top of my lungs, because if any song could unlock the powers of heaven it’s that one. After getting to the verse about John the Baptist, still the heavens hadn’t opened. I knew then that I was going to need to step up to the next stage in prayer.

The claiming prayer:

The praise prayer wasn’t working, so I knew I had to pull out the big guns. This poor truck was being help captive by the powers of hell and only I could free it. I then remembered the authority by which Jesus prayed. He just spoke, and things happened. Then I remembered something He said. “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you. (Luke 17:6) How could I have been so dumb. The answer was right in front of my face and I was missing it. I just need to have faith. I just need to claim it as mine. I then proceeding to believe. How does one begin to do this you may ask? Well, first off, you have to sound angry. The powers of darkness need to understand that you mean business, and you can’t do this with a quiet voice. Then you have to shout out your claims of faith. This has to be done out loud otherwise you’re not really believing. I shouted out things like; I claim that truck in Jesus name. I claim the doors, and I claim the hood, I claim the fenders, and I claim the wood. I must warn you to be careful in your claims though. I got so excited about my new-found authority, I almost chucked the truck into the sea by faith. You don’t want to do that. Minutes latter and only a hoarse throat to show for my efforts I realized the principalities and powers holding this truck were going to be broken easily. Once again I need to step up my prayers.

Intercessory prayer:

Intercessory prayer is the act of interceding or mediating between two parties. It’s a prayer in which a request in made on behalf of another person. At this point I realized what was happening. I needed to pray for the farmer to release the truck over to me. It must be the farmer that is the key to this whole thing, I thought. I then began to pray passionate schizophrenic prayers asking God to either convince him to give me the truck or to harden his heart and make him crazy like the Pharaoh or old.

The fervent prayer:

After deep intercession was made for the farmers eye’s to be opened I then remembered another verse in James. “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” (James 5:16) Never mind the fact that I had no idea what effectual, fervent, and availeth meant, but I had an idea that God just didn’t want me to give up. It was a good thing this verse came when it did, because at this point I was starting to loose faith. I had praised, I had claimed, I interceded and still nothing. What else could be done? By this time I was home, and like a good student trying to get what they want, I looked up what it meant to be fervent. I was right! God didn’t want me to give up. He just wanted me to keep knocking on the door of faith, and that by persistence, the windows of heaven would be opened to me.

Answered prayer:

By this point I was well into days of prayer over the deliverance of the most amazing ’56’ Chevy in the world. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God wanted this truck to be mind. I began to thank Him for the answered prayer that was soon to come. Sure enough, two days later, I drove to the farmers house and wouldn’t you know it, he sold that truck to me for a fraction of the price. Not only did he reduce the price drastically, but he let me make small payment on it over the next year. I tried to withhold my exuberant joy, but inside I was like a school boy just starting summer break. He gave me instructions and tossed me the keys and from that point on my life was never the same.

I didn’t make it down the road far that day before a couple things were apparent to me. In spite of the fact that I had no idea what to do in prayer, I was convinced beyond any doubt that God still answers prayer. Even though my heart was wrong, and my methods were worse, God wanted me to understand that he uses prayer.

I wish I could say that was the only thing God wanted me to learn from this experience. Over the course of the next few months I also learned you need to be careful what you pray for, because you just might get it. Roseburg, Oregon is a rainy and cold place in the winter, and if you spend a lot of time in your car there are a few things you’re going to want. First, you’re going to want a heater. I know, it seems so basic, but I had to learn this the hard way. That beautiful ’56’ Chevy was a sight to behold from the outside, but it didn’t have a heater. For the next few months I delivered pizza’s with portable heater that plugged into the cigarette light stuffed up my coat, and let me tell you, it didn’t do much good.

The next thing you’re going to want your car to have in the rainy winter months of pizza delivery is power steering. At this point your thinking, come on Tom, you can live without power steering. Well, you try delivery pizza’s down a cul-de-sac with the worst steering Chevy ever made. After driving that truck for six months, I was like Bruce Lee minus the karate skills. My arms were cut though, I’ll tell you that.

Lastly, you’re going to want sealed windows when it rains ten months out of the year. I thought for sure I had a mold problem growing on my leg from the perpetual moisture seeping through the seals, or lack of if you will. Unfortunately, my ’56’ beauty had none of these things and so began the cycle of prayer again.

Moral of the story, Pray. But, be careful what you pray for because you just might get it.

Have you ever prayed for something you wished you hadn’t?

Not Just A Fool With A Fancy Guitar

19 Mar

Blessing, it’s probably not something we think a lot about, unless someone has sneezed, of course. A blessing is a powerful thing. Now, I’m talking about the, “that boy’s got rocks in his head, bless his heart,” type of blessing. Although, that type of blessing is powerful too, just in a different kind of way. For whatever reason, perhaps because it’s become Christianize, the spiritual principle of blessing has largely lost it’s platform to deeply speak into our lives.

A couple of months ago I taught a short devotional on, Blessings, to a group of families in our church. I was given this book that I’ve hi-lighted, and the principles in it have changed my nightly rituals and how I think about the term blessing in general. Now, for all those out there who aren’t married or don’t have kids, please don’t stop reading now. Although this particular book emphasizes the family blessing, a spiritual understanding of blessings is important for all followers of Christ.

As a nursery pastor I have the opportunity to meet with many young couples wanting to dedicate their children. While many people understand that dedicating a child is more about the commitments the parents are making to live a life of love, faith, and obedience that will directly influence the lives of their children, many see dedication as a way to pass the buck if you will. They think that because they went through the physical act of dedicating their child that they are no longer responsible for the spiritual well being of their child’s life. It’s not that people don’t want their children to be blessed by any means, but they don’t understand that the channel of blessing flows directly through them. With more and more people growing up fatherless or in broken homes, many have never experienced through their own families what it means to be blessed, and therefore have no idea how to reverse the tide. I myself fall into this category, but, the blessing we should have received is not lost.

Throughout scripture, we see that God is a God of blessings. When it comes to having the spiritual gift of giving, nobody tops God. He makes promises, and those promises extend to generation after generation. We also see throughout scripture that God’s blessing often flows through parents, as seen in Genesis 27:1-40. It’s important to have a deeper understanding of the term blessing to really grasp why it’s so significant.

The word, blessing, comes from the ancient term, berakah.

  • To the ancient Hebrews, a barakah was the transmittal or endowment of the power of God’s goodness and favor, usually through the spoken word and often with the accompanying act of the laying on of hands.
  • For Abraham, the berakah was God’s spoken declaration of favor that would convey God’s power to make him into a great nation and able to transmit that divine favor and power to the whole world.
  • The Hebrews believed that the spoken work carried great power for good and evil
  • Most ancient peoples were convinced, as the Hebrews were, that words once spoken take on a life of their own. So when a word of blessing was given, the speaker could not retract it.
  • This was the case with Isaac’s blessing, which was given mistakenly to his younger son, Jacob, rather than to his firstborn, Esau (Gen. 27:1-40).
  • In the New Testament, the word most often translated as “bless” is the Greek verb eulogeo, from which we get the words eulogy and eulogize. It means literally “to speak well of” or “to express praise.”
  • As in the Old Testament, this blessing was often the act of calling down God’s gracious power on someone.
  • Such benedictions, or prayers of blessing, always included the name of God

As we all know, the words we receive, as well as the words we speak, have a powerful effect on our lives and the lives of others. We have the power to speak words of blessing that will extend from one generation to the next. The first act in extending this act of berakah to others is to first receive it ourselves. While the blessing of God is a free gift, and given lavishly, it is not without conditions. The condition for God’s blessing is always obedience. By simply putting ourselves into alignment with God’s word, we step under the shadow of his covering and into his blessing. Once we determine to live under his blessing, then that same blessing will flow to our children and our children’s children.

I mentioned that this book, The Family Blessing, has changed my nightly ritual. I so long for the blessing of God to be on my family and children. I understand that in large part I hold the keys to that blessing as the spiritual priest of my home. Now, before my baby girls is put in her crib, I lay my hands on her and I pray, “The LORD bless you and keep you; The LORD make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance on you, And give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-46. Never mind the fact that at 1 years old, she hates it. Perhaps it’s the fact that I’m the only thing in the way of her and feeding; I don’t care though, she’s getting blessed. Seriously though, I don’t know about you, but I refuse to withhold the blessing that at one time was withheld from me, but is now flowing because of God’s grace. Don’t withhold the blessing. Remember, you are a priest and a prince in the Kingdom of God.

If you want to understand the title, you’ll have to watch the video below.

It’s so easy to cash in these chips on my shoulder
So easy to loose this old tongue like a tiger
It’s easy to let all this bitterness smolder
Just to hide it away like a cigarette lighter

It’s easy to curse and to hurt and to hinder
It’s easy to not have the heart to remember
That I am a priest and a prince in the Kingdom of God

I’ve got voices that scream in my head like a siren
Fears that I feel in the night when I sleep
Stupid choices I made when I played in the mire
Like a kid in the mud on some dirty blind street

I’ve got sorrow to spare, I’ve got loneliness too
I’ve got blood on these hands that hold on to the truth
That I am a priest and a prince in the Kingdom of God

I swore on the Bible to not tell a lie
But I’ve lied and lied
And I crossed my heart and I hoped to die
And I’ve died and died

But if it’s true that you gathered my sin in your hand
And you cast it as far as the east from the west
If it’s true that you put on the flesh of a man
And you walked in my shoes through the shadow of death

If it’s true that you dwell in the halls of my heart
Then I’m not just a fool with a fancy guitar
No, I am a priest and a prince in the Kingdom of God

Praying in Circles

15 Mar

Prayer is a challenging thing. Whether it’s in groups or on my own, I often struggle with prayer. It’s not that I don’t want to pray, but so many times I just feel like I don’t know what I’m doing. I come from a Pentecostal background, so I have had my fare share of long drawn out prayer times (the kind where your head is bobbing the whole time because you keep falling asleep). I’ll never forget a time at Bible College that to this day makes me want to climb in a hole with embarrassment. As many of you know, the school I attended was as intense as they come (of which I intend to write a book on someday), and sometimes the schedule was grueling. It wasn’t uncommon for us to be going from 5:30am till the evening, and there was a lot of prayer time. We prayed in circles, we prayed in fields, we prayed in closets, and under stairwells. You name it, there was someone praying there. With the intensity of the schedule, it wasn’t uncommon for someone to doze off in class or during chapel. How could you not? But, there were times when nobody in their right mind would fall asleep, except me.

The founder of the college was a big name evangelist, well known throughout the world, and every once in a while, he would attend our campus. On the days he visited he was always the morning speaker, of course. As if the atmosphere of the school wasn’t intense enough on its own, the place transformed into a place of seeming perfection the moment his car drove through the front gates. It’s hard to describe the change that occurred. You got the feeling from the President of the school that if anything went wrong while he was there, that person would be excommunicated from the school and church, and their soul would be left to wander the halls of purgatory for all time (The school doesn’t even believe in purgatory-that’s how scary it was). On one of the days he visited, I happened to be extremely exhausted (it must have been from all the prayer times pacing the out in the fields). By the time chapel came around, I thought I was going to pass out. I had finally made it through class, but now chapel was upon me. I had one consolation though: he was a screamer. (Who could fall asleep to a screaming preacher?)

Well, on this particular day, he wasn’t screaming at all. In fact, from what I remember, it was the calmest, quietest message I’ve ever heard from the guy. My head bobbed throughout the whole service. Every time it bobbed, I jerked awake, then freaked out wondering how long I had been out. Then, all I could think about was purgatory and how my soul would be left to rot there if I didn’t get it together. Usually service was about an hour and a half, but on this day, he decided to recite the whole Old Testament (at least that what I thought). After who knows how long, his message started coming to a close. I started celebrating in my head (10,000 balloons dropped from the ceiling, while streamers and confetti showered us with jubilant expressions of joy). I knew I had made it. I wouldn’t have to endure the hardships of purgatory after all. Or, would I? Just when I thought I could see the end zone, he pulled a last second audible that had me dazed and confused. I was like a rookie quarter back screaming, ‘time out’ to the ref with no times outs left. He stepped off the platform, and speaking softly said words that had me scrambling; “lets bow our heads, and wait of God.”

Now I was in full fledged panic. For those of you who are wondering why I was so freaked out, you don’t know my school. ‘Wait on God’ could mean we were going to silently pray until Jesus split the eastern sky. Some people bowed their heads, while others got on their knees, I knew there was no posture that was going to get me out of what surely was to come for me: Dante’s fourth level of hell. (I have no idea what Dante’s fourth level was, but I was sure I was going to find out.) I lowered my head, and just as you may have guessed, I was out like a light. I wish I could tell you that was the end of the story. I wish I could tell you no body ever found out and I lived happily ever after. Have you ever experienced a time when you could stay awake, but you were trying to fight it so bad that your body convulsed when you came too? Well, that’s what happened. Well into the prayer time, I realized I had fallen asleep, and instead of calmly waking myself, my body shot up (loudly wacking the pew in front of me), and a panicked shout escaped my lungs, totally interrupting the ‘wait on God’ time. My friends snickered with pleasure as I melted into a pile of goo to the floor beneath me.

As if the bobbing head prayer times aren’t hard enough, then we have the prayer circles. Watch the video below, and let me know if any of this looks familiar.

Not only do peculiar things happen when we pray in circles, I often feel like my prayers are going in circles. I don’t know about you, but I often feel like I could use a little help in my prayer life. Fortunately for all of us, the disciples felt the same way.

1 Once Jesus was in a certain place praying. As he finished, one of his disciples came to him and said, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” (Luke 11:1)

Jesus didn’t leave them hanging, and he won’t leave us hanging either.

2 Jesus said, “This is how you should pray:

“Father, may your name be kept holy.
May your Kingdom come soon.
3 Give us each day the food we need,
4 and forgive us our sins,
as we forgive those who sin against us.
And don’t let us yield to temptation.]
(Luke 11:2-4)

There are a few things I noticed in these verses.

1. Father, may your name be kept holy-When we come to God, we have to remember His holiness. By doing this, we are posturing our hearts to receive from God. When we come to God remember His holiness, not only do we sense a reverent fear, we also experience the awe of His love. If we forget his holiness, we often reduce God to be more like Santa Clause of a genie in a bottle with a ‘grant me my wishes’ attitude. As we recognize His holiness, we love Him even more, because while we were still sinners, He died for us.

2. May your kingdom come soon-by praying this, we are reminded that our lives serve a bigger purpose. We are reminded why we are here on this planet, to make Jesus famous. Setting our minds on His kingdom changes how we pray, because it changes how we view the world we live in. When we put our minds on His kingdom, an excitement for heaven grips us. When we set our minds on His kingdom, we let go of ours.

3. Give us each day the food we need-up to this point, we’ve postured our hearts, we postured our mind, and now, we respond in faith. ‘Give us each day the food we need’ means we aren’t living in the past or the future, but trusting God for today. Like the manna provided for the children of Israel wasn’t to be stored up, so is the life of faith for us today. ‘Give us this day,’ takes everything out of our hands and hands it over to God. Whether we have a lot or little, faith requires we recognize, all is God’s.

4. and forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us-This remind us that God really cares how we live. He’s so forgiving, but we have to ask. As we come to prayer, we do a heart check, and a life check. He longs for us to be close to Him, but real intimacy only happens as we constantly examine ourselves. The more we come to realize God’s forgiveness towards ourselves; we can’t help but extend that same forgiveness to others. It’s almost as if we NEED to see how filthy we really are without Christ.

5. And don’t let us yield to temptation-this is where we deflate our ego’s a bit. The longer we walk with Jesus, the easier it is to seem as if we have this whole Christian thing down. As soon as we put down our guard, we get blindsided. When we pray for strength not to yield, we are reminded that we could yield. Every one of us has an inner Saul who doesn’t want to wait on God. If we aren’t careful, we too might disobey God, and then think we are doing him a favor in the process. I’m convinced this one little question is designed to remind us, that, we are not as strong as we think we are.

So, if you’re like me, and you’ve been praying in circles, Christ words are a good place to come back too. I encourage you to read the rest of Luke 11. Praying is difficult, but it’s worth the fight. In fact, it is the fight. There are a million things that try to keep me from prayer, and at the forefront of those things is the thought that God won’t hear me. Just as the video remind us, God hears our prayers no matter how they come. We just have to come.

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