Category Archives: Prayer

Inhabiting the Lord’s Prayer

 

Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. 

The Lord’s Prayer is more than just a quaint, prayer to memorize and recite mindlessly. If we’ll slow down and meditate on it long enough, we’ll soon discover this is a prayer spacious enough to take up residence in. We can learn to inhabit these powerful petitions and abide in these comforting truths. Let’s explore all the various rooms of the LORD’s Prayer, as though we’re coming home for the holiday to the Great House of God our Father! This is based on Max Lucado’s book The Great House of God.

Its a universal longing: the desire to “return home” from wherever we’ve been. We desire to settle in where we most belong, where we’re most honestly ourselves, where we can stop pretending, quit performing, take off the mask, lounge around in our pajamas, comfortable enough to put our feet up on the furniture and enjoy a drink without worrying about a coaster. Welcome home to the Great House of God.

Let’s “sit in” each line of this over-familiar prayer, ponder these majestic surroundings and experience these truths as though for the first time. Let’s begin the tour.
Continue reading Inhabiting the Lord’s Prayer

28-Day Spiritual Fitness Challenge

screen-shot-2017-03-01-at-9-14-20-pmInstead of giving up something for Lent this year, how about taking up a 28-Day Spiritual fitness challenge?

Two amazing MainStreet friends — Jaimie Hanly and Melissa Noreen — created a wonderful tool for growing in one’s prayer life and relationship with God. It’s a great idea for this Lenten season.

In invite you to check this out, and join the challenge!

Check it out HERE.

Thanks again Jaimie and Melissa for your labor of love!  May it bear fruit in many lives!

Cabin 12: Morning Prayer Walk

Screen shot 2014-07-29 at 1.41.40 PMI pulled myself out of bed at sunrise and met Jesus by the front steps for a morning walk.

“Where’s your coffee?” he asked.

I smiled and shrugged.  “You know I don’t drink coffee.”

“Yes, I think you’re the only pastor on earth who doesn’t drink coffee,” he jested.

Since he didn’t have a drink in his hand either, I thought I’d ask, “Where’s your coffee, Jesus?”

With a wink he shot back with a playful echo from a scene from the Gospel of John, “Oh, I have a kind of coffee you know nothing about. My coffee,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work” (cf. John 4:32-34).

Chuckles all around. Frankly, it was a bit early for jokes in my opinion. As someone who is not a “morning person”, cheery morning folks get on my nerves….but this was Jesus so I wasn’t going to complain. And what would you expect? A grumpy Savior with bed head tired from staying up too late watching the Sci Fi channel?

“Follow me!” he said as we walked down the front steps of the cabin and toward a wood trail along the lake front.  The weather was perfect and the morning birds flitted about singing their morning songs. My cartoon imagination almost expected a bird to perch on Jesus’ shoulder like Snow White as we ventured into nature. Continue reading Cabin 12: Morning Prayer Walk

Water in the Desert 3 – Ezekiel 37:1-14

water-in-desert-pic-754528The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath[a] enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”

So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.

11 Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.12 Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 14 I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.’”

Merciful God, this valley of shadows smells like death. Life seems so far away from this place. We see in our sick loved one tendons and flesh, but very little breath (v.8). Our bones are so very weak and dry from these endless days of suffering. We prophesy to all that is not as it should be, “Dry bones, weary souls, hear the word of the LORD: In the name of Jesus, breathe fresh breath from the four winds into this situation. Help us to rise up each morning and face each day in your power!”  We stare disease in the face and ask , “Can these bones live?”  And we cast everything we have and are on this realith: “Sovereign LORD, you alone know” (v.3). Ultimately, we draw courage and hope today knowing that even though we may have days where we feel like “our hope is gone” and “we are cut off” (v.11), we know that Jesus has conquered the grave, and therefore even if death should visit this valley we will indeed rise and stand on our feet — we just don’t know if it will be in this life or the next. So we say, “Sovereign LORD, you alone know.” Amen

Water in the Desert 2 – Gen 32:22-32

Image22 The same night he arose and took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven children,[e] and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 He took them and sent them across the stream, and everything else that he had. 24 And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. 25 When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. 26 Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27 And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 28 Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel,[f] for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” 29 Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. 30 So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel,[g] saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.” 31 The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip. 32 Therefore to this day the people of Israel do not eat the sinew of the thigh that is on the hip socket, because he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip on the sinew of the thigh.”

It was very dark. His entire family was far away across the water. He felt so alone. When he and his family had arrived in this new land, he had high hopes. He was following God’s lead to the best of his ability. Then it happened. Out of the blue, the struggle began. The assailant snuck up on him and took him by surprise. The worst part was that in the thick, black fog of this struggle, he couldn’t quite figure out who the assailant really was. Was it the Devil out to destroy him? Was it God out to test and strengthen him? Was is just a random no good thief passing through?

He fought with everything he had. When he started to grow tired, he would dig down deeper and keep going. He was not going down without a fight. The struggle seemed to go on forever. Daylight seemed to never come….Then it happened. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck his socket and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint. It hurt so bad. The man said, “Let me go!” Jacob was resilient! Persistent! He would not let go of his grasp.

He came to understand that he was wrestling with God in human form. And this didn’t make him cower back and release his grip. No, he grabbed on even tighter and with desperation in his eyes he said, “God, you have made promises to bless me and my family. You are a just God who doesn’t break his promises. You are for me and not against me, and so I am not letting go of you until you give me your word.”  God knew that Jacob believed in Him, but Jacob needed to believe in himself.  So God asked, “What is your name?”  What He meant was, “What is your true identity in the Lord?” And then he gave him a new name, a name that would always remind him of this all night struggle, and his victory. He had striven with God, met him face to face, and not backed down, not given up. He had finished the race set before him. He had drank cup God gave him. He didn’t ask questions. He didn’t demand to know why the struggle was necessary. Moreover, the struggle left a permenant mark on him. He would never be the same. He walked away with a limp. His hip would never quite heal…. He still has a lot of questions, but what he knows for certain is that that all night struggle changed him, and he learned that God doesn’t mind being wrestled with. He can handle our toughest questions, our frustrated outbursts, our desperate moves. He just wants us to stay in the ring with Him.

Water in the Desert 1 – Gen 28:10-22

Image10 Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Harran. 11 When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. 12 He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 13 There above it[c] stood the Lord, and he said: “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. 14 Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.[d] 15 I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”16 When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” 17 He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.”18 Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. 19 He called that place Bethel,[e] though the city used to be called Luz. 20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear 21 so that I return safely to my father’s household, then the Lord[f] will be my God 22 and[g] this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.” (Gen. 28:10-22)

He felt all alone in that desert. He was exhausted from the journey. He was miserable. He trusted God but part of him was beginning to doubt. His weary body collapsed on the ground and all he desired was a good night’s sleep. But how well can you sleep when you have a stone for a pillow?! He drifted off to sleep with many desperate thoughts swirling in his mind: “Where is God in this hellish desert?” “If only I could be released from this hell, to go be with God in a better place.” “I feel all alone in this dark place.”

But in his dream he his physical sight was eclipsed by a heavenly glimpse into the invisible spiritual realm. He realized that he was not alone. God was not “somewhere else up there” with me down here. Rather, he was surrounded by God’s angels coming up and down, ministering in unseen ways, waging war in the heavenlies, doing God’s bidding and watching over him. God reminded him of his promises, and assured him that he would remain faithful. His tired soul heard the words he most needed to hear: “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go…I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you” (v. 15).

He awoke with not nearly enough sleep. His body sore and his neck in knots — again, stones don’t make good pillows. He dragged himself to his feet, and turned his eyes toward the rising sun, and said the words he didn’t think he would ever say of this hellhole of a desert:  “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.” Yes, he still felt alone. He still saw only desert on all sides. He was still weary and weak. But he resolved to put one foot in front of the other and would now face the heat of day with a renewed awareness that “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” God seems to enjoy meeting people in the desert more than any other place.

Interestingly, the very thing that kept him awake all night and caused him great discomfort — that is, that miserable stone under his head — he transformed into a pillar to remind him of God’s faithfulness and anointed it with oil. What source of pain and discomfort do we have in our life that we can anoint with oil and transform into an altar to the living God?

Dear God, open my spiritual eyes to see your angels all around, and remind me that even this awful desert is still permeated with your presence. Grant me rest, but even if sleep is slow to come, transform this “stone under my head” keeping me awake into an altar and a reminder of your faithfulness. Amen. 

A Prayer of Protection

Father, in the name of Jesus, we lift up MainStreet to You and pray a hedge of protection around them. We thank You, Father, that You are a wall of fire round about MainStreet and that you set Your angels round about them. We thank You, Father, that MainStreet dwells in the secret place of the Most High and abides under the shadow of the Almighty. We say of You, Lord, You are their refuge and fortress, in You will they trust. You cover MainStreet with Your feathers, and under Your wings shall they trust. MainStreet shall not be afraid of the terror by night or the arrow that flies by day. Only with their eyes will MainStreet behold and see the reward of the wicked. Because MainStreet has made You, Lord, their refuge and fortress, no evil shall befall them — no accident will overtake them — neither shall any plague or calamity come near them. For you give Your angels charge over MainStreet, to keep them in all Your ways. Father, because You have set Your love upon MainStreet, therefore will You deliver them. MainStreet shall call upon You, and You will answer them. You will be with them in trouble and will satisfy MainStreet with a long life and show them Your salvation. Not a hair of their heads shall perish. In the name of Jesus, Amen.

-Author Unknown

Prayer Walking with Nehemiah

This was prepared as a guide for a prayer walk about the city of Mound.  Enjoy. -JB

This fall Nehemiah will be our guide and model for mobilizing MainStreet in the task of restoring the city of Mound for the glory of God. Nehemiah was living in the King’s winter palace when he got word of the broken down state of Jerusalem. Filled with compassion for the plight of Jerusalem, and filled with determination to do something about the problem, Nehemiah courageously asked the King to send him to Jerusalem with provisions to rebuild.

Upon his arrival in the city, he spent 3 days preparing his heart and mind to face the challenge ahead of him. Then he arose secretly in the cover of night, and with a small band of men, he went walking through the city examining the extent of the damage. Nehemiah was a man of prayer, and I would guess that his walk that night was filled with heart-felt prayer for the city lying in ruins, and for the strength and determination to complete the significant project ahead of him.

Similarly, God has filled a group of people with compassion for the spiritual state of the city of Mound. God has enlisted a strong team of people to begin the work of rebuilding the church of God in this community. Tonight we want to follow Nehemiah’s example, and make our own prayerful walk down the main street of Mound praying for revival in this city, for the mission of MainStreet, for those who don’t yet know Christ, and for this Sunday’s groundbreaking worship service. Here’s the story: Continue reading Prayer Walking with Nehemiah