26.1.23: A blessing in disguise

Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world (John 16:33; NLT). 

Yesterday morning I learned something that was completely new to me. I had begun a migraine the evening before, so I knew I needed to have a day of complete rest to help it pass. This rest-day happened to coincide with the day a friend’s husband was due to have major surgery.

Suddenly I saw the migraine as a blessing in disguise, because it created the time, space and opportunity I needed to pray for them both throughout the day. Immediately after this, I grasped that many other illnesses and adverse circumstances could also be used in the same way.

It may be that seeing our own sickness as an opportunity for intercession is linked to our willingness to embrace suffering, and to thank God for it. There is much I don’t yet understand about this subject, but I hope to learn more.

For now, I glimpse that this approach to illness could become a helpful, meaningful way of sharing Christ’s suffering, and of serving others. Perhaps it could even be described as a “vocation”.

Together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering (Romans 8:17; NLT). 

So, as a prisoner in the Lord, I beg you to walk in a manner worthy of the vocation to which you have been called: with all humility and meekness, with patience, supporting one another in charity (Ephesians 4:1-2; CPDV).


References

God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them (Romans 8:28; NLT).

He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:9-10; NKJV). 

Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies (2 Corinthians 4:10; NLT).

I want your will to be done, not mine (Luke 22:42; NLT).

In all their suffering he also suffered, and he personally rescued them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them. He lifted them up and carried them through all the years (Isaiah 63:9; NLT). 

13.1.23: Prayer #1

I find that interceding for others can easily become a burden. More and more people are added to my list, and hardly anyone is ever crossed off. Praying for them all can become a lengthy, repetitive, exhausting task, rather than a caring, heartfelt appeal for God to help them. Sometimes I’m just not well enough to manage it at all, even though I don’t want to neglect anyone who is suffering.

As I was reflecting on this a couple of days ago, today’s prayer came to me:

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them (1 Timothy 2:1; NLT).

It doesn’t need to be a burden:
Pray, right now, for everyone,

Asking God to heal and bless them:
Simply pray through Christ, the Son.

Let the Holy Spirit pray
On your behalf, to God above.

Lift this troubled world to heaven:
He will help us all, with love.

The Spirit [comes to us and] helps us in our weakness. We do not know what prayer to offer or how to offer it as we should, but the Spirit Himself [knows our need and at the right time] intercedes on our behalf with sighs and groanings too deep for words (Romans 8:26; AMP).

After writing, then saying, this prayer, I suddenly saw that I could use my rosary to help me pray for others. So I tried it out, like this:

Holding the first bead of the first decade, I waited silently to see who came into my mind, then I prayed for them. Moving on to the next bead, I waited again to see who came to mind, and so on. When no more names appeared, I knew my intercessions were finished for the moment.

With this approach, I didn’t have to think about who to pray for, which was a relief. It also felt less mechanical than using a list – more natural, spontaneous, and supported by the Holy Spirit.

I quickly saw that I could use my rosary like this to pray discreetly for others in different settings, such as during medical treatments, or journeys, whilst walking, or waiting somewhere, and so on. Normally, I do this without a rosary, but find that it’s very easy to be distracted, to forget who I’m praying for, or even to forget that I’m praying. The more creative I can be with my intercessions, the fresher and more alive they will become. I already know that there will be more on this topic over the next few days. God is good!


References 

Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion (Ephesians 6:18; NLT).

You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father (John 14L13; NLT).

I am the LORD who heals you (Exodus 15:26; NLT). 

I am the one who wounds and heals (Deuteronomy 32:39; NLT).

26.12.22: Faith

Context: Today’s prayer came to me whilst I was praying on the morning of Christmas Eve. I was so grateful to receive it:

I love you, LORD (Psalm 18:1; NLT). 

I love you, Lord, and I have faith
That you love me still more.
Please help me where my faith falls short,
For it is weak and poor.

I love you, Lord, and I have faith
That you have sent your Son
To help us when our faith falls short,
So we can all be one.

Please rid me, Lord, of every sin,
And help me to follow Christ.
My mind, heart, soul and strength are yours
In humble sacrifice.

You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength (Mark 12:30; NLT).

My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise (Psalm 51:17; NIV).

16.12.22: Your love

Context: Yesterday morning I received this prayer. I was facing a very demanding day, during which I had appointments with two different consultants.

The verses I was given reminded me of Saint Mother Theresa, who served God faithfully, even though for many years she had no sense at all of God’s loving presence. Despite this, she was always cheerful, continuing to carry out her ministry with great devotion.

Mother Theresa had to walk by faith, not sight, and I can do the same. I find this realisation very helpful, comforting and reassuring.

We walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7; CSB). 

Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe (John 20:29; CSB). 

Lord God, 

May I experience
Your warm and tender love for me,
But when I don’t, may I have faith
That you hear every plea.

May I believe as Mary did –
So young, so pure, so long ago,
Prepared, Lord, to embrace each test:
The trials you bestow.

Then I’ll say, “Yes”, and offer thanks,
No matter what you ask each day,
Take up my cross, and follow Christ –
My life, my truth, my way.

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6; NLT).


References 

He loves us with unfailing love; the LORD’s faithfulness endures forever (Psalm 117:2; NLT). 

We know he hears us when we make our requests (1 John 5:15; NLT).

Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world (John 16:33; NLT). 

The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul (Deuteronomy 13:3; NIV). 

And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word (Luke 1:38; KJV). 

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:18; NIV). 

Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23; NLT). 

4.12.22: Step forward

Context: After a very tiring day last Friday, I fell deeply asleep in the evening. When I woke at about 10pm, these lines were already forming in my mind, so I wrote them down, and worked on them yesterday:

He said to the man who had the withered hand, “Step forward” (Mark 3:3; NKJV). 

Step forward,
And never look back;
Trust in Jesus:
There’s nothing we lack.

Step forward,
And don’t turn aside;
Trust in Jesus:
Our Shepherd and Guide.

Step forward,
And never give up;
Trust in Jesus,
Who drank from God’s cup.

Step forward,
And never give in;
Trust in Jesus,
Who pardons our sin.

‘I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!” (Matthew 9:6; NLT).


References 

Jesus told him, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62; NLT). 

The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing (Psalm 23:1; NIV). 

Be careful to do what the LORD your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left (Deuteronomy 5:32; NIV). 

My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done (Matthew 26:42; NLT). 

Therefore, since God in his mercy has given us this new way, we never give up (2 Corinthians 4:1; NLT). 

Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak (Mark 14:38; NLT). 

28.11.22: Life is sweet

Context: This prayer arrived in a rough form on Saturday, when I had a migraine. It wasn’t until yesterday, when I looked at it again, that I was able to see what it was saying, and put it into words:

After the fire came a still small voice (1 Kings 19:12; BSB). 

Listen to God’s voice,
So small, so still,
For life is sweet
When we accept his will. 

No matter what God sends,
Of good or bad,
When we say,”Yes”, like Christ,
Our hearts are glad.

No matter what God asks,
We have a choice –
So let’s say, “Thank you, Jesus”,
And rejoice. 

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; NIV).


References 

Teach me to do your pleasure, because you are my God; your Spirit is sweet; you will lead me in the way of life (Psalm 143:10; ABPE). 

I create the light and make the darkness. I send good times and bad times. I, the LORD, am the one who does these things (Isaiah 45:7; NLT).

I want your will to be done, not mine (Luke 22:42; NLT). 

The LORD must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion (Isaiah 30:18; NLT). 

Though the Lord gave you adversity for food and suffering for drink, he will still be with you to teach you (Isaiah 30:20; NLT).

The laws of the LORD are true; each one is fair. They are more desirable than gold, even the finest gold. They are sweeter than honey, even honey dripping from the comb (Psalm 19:9-10; NLT). 

How sweet your words taste to me; they are sweeter than honey (Psalm 119:103; NLT).

27.11.22: Better than life

Context: Today’s prayer arrived early yesterday morning when I woke at around 4am with a migraine. After taking my medications, I sat propped up in bed, alternately dozing and writing. These verses slowly emerged over the course of the day, finishing late in the evening:

What is sweeter than honey? (Judges 14:18; NLT). 

What’s sweeter than honey,
And choicer than wine?
Higher than knowledge,
And vaster than time?

What’s brighter than sunlight,
And greater than wealth?
Warmer than friendship,
And finer than health?

What’s stronger than sharing,
And deeper than love?
Kinder than giving,
And richer than blood?

What’s wiser than serving,
And dearer than breath?
Simpler than worship,
And closer than death?

What’s better than living,
And makes us all one?
It’s Christ, our salvation,
God’s dearly-loved Son.

There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12; NLT).

This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy (2 Peter 1 17; NLT).


References

I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him (Philippians 3:7; NLT).

There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28; NLT).

Your unfailing love is better than life itself (Psalm 63:3; NLT).

God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16; NLT).

24.11.22: In my dreams

Context: In dreams, I very rarely say or do anything overtly Christian, which seems both surprising and sad.

Yesterday morning I woke from a complicated, stressful dream, longing to pray. However, even before I could begin, this blog started to arrive. I tried hard to ignore it, which was impossible. It quickly became so loud and insistent that I had to give in, and write it down, like this:

I want to be a Christian
In my dreams,
To turn to you, and pray, Lord,
In my dreams;
To ask for your forgiveness
In my dreams,
Love others, Lord, and serve you –
In my dreams. 

I want to be a Christian
In my dreams,
So I can praise and thank you
In my dreams;
To revel in your presence
In my dreams,
And welcome all that happens –
In my dreams.

I want to be a Christian
In my dreams,
Then I will see your face, Lord,
In my dreams.
I’ll worship without ceasing
In my dreams,
And live in heaven on earth, Lord –
In my dreams.


Rosary news:

Well, since my most recent failure I’ve thought hard about rosary-making, watched some more YouTube videos, talked with my friend in the UK, and had a Zoom consultation with a lovely consecrated Sister who knows her rosaries. Then I threw the (metaphorical) rule-book into the (metaphorical) bin, and put together my own way of doing it, with the following result:

It seems very strong, and I’m tempted to ask my husband to test its joints, but don’t yet feel quite tough enough to deal with the disappointment if it immediately comes apart like the last one. Maybe I’ll ask him tomorrow….

NB: In the end, I plucked up my courage, he tested it, and it’s still in one piece so far!

22.11.22: Coming out!

Context: For a long time now, as some readers will know, I’ve been finding it more and more difficult to write as if God is somehow solely “masculine”.

There is considerable social and religious pressure regarding this issue, so it’s taken a lot of courage for me to “come out” by making some significant changes here on my website over recent weeks. As a Christian woman, I believe very deeply that God has no gender, but includes all that is masculine and feminine, as well as everything beyond. Anything less just doesn’t make sense to me.

However, because I’m ill with Covid at present, I’m having to post some pieces from my store-house, rather than writing new material every day. Unfortunately, I don’t have sufficient energy to replace all the previously-chosen Bible quotes with more modern versions using non-sexist language. This means that you may notice a few purely masculine pronouns for God still creeping in from time to time.

Despite this, it’s a great relief and joy to have “come out” as a Christian woman who believes passionately in the genderlessness and inclusiveness of God, and the unavoidable parallel truth of human equality. All this recently found expression in a rare, humorous poem about myself. As soon as I began to write down the first few words I was given, the rest simply flowed without hesitation:

Humankind was created as God’s reflection: in the divine image God created them; female and male, God made them (Genesis 1:27; TIB).

I’ve come out as a woman,
And it really does feel good:
A woman, and a Christian,
Made of real, live flesh and blood.

A woman with a mind and heart,
A woman with a soul:
A woman who has waited many years
To be made whole.

I’ve faced discrimination,
And I’ve worked through every test:
I’ve come out for equality –
It really is the best.

I’m a person in the image
Of the God who fashioned me:
No longer is there male and female,
One in Christ – I’m free.

There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28; NLT).


References

God is not a man (Numbers 23:19; NLT). 

God is Spirit (John 4:24; NLT).

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has chosen me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed and announce that the time has come when the Lord will save his people (Luke 4:18-19; GNT).


Rosary news

Covid makes it very hard to think straight, and to concentrate. After failing repeatedly to join on my crosses adequately, yesterday I came pretty close to thinking I would have to give up my rosary-making hopes altogether. However, later in the day I made one final attempt, whilst scrupulously following the instructions kindly supplied by my friend Maureen in the UK. This producing a nice-looking Fiat Rosary, which gave me fresh hope:

Very sadly, though, when I picked it up it to feel and enjoy it, the cord junction simply fell apart, so now I’ll have to start all over again. But at least I remembered to say, “Thank you, Jesus”, which was a real achievement, given the circumstances!

15.11.22: Even me?

Context: This prayer was written a few days ago, but being unable to write at present (because I’m ill with Covid), has given me an unexpected opportunity to use it here today.

NB: My husband started to feel ill yesterday, and has now also tested positive for covid, so we are in isolation.

God already loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God (John 16:27; TIB).

Lord,

Do you love even me?
And do you hear my every plea?
And do you really set me free?
You do.

You’re the way, the door, the key.
You teach, forgive and guide. You see
My sins, yet still you guarantee
It’s true.

Yahweh, Son and Spirit: Three
In One, God for eternity –
May all believe, and bow the knee
To you.

“As surely as I live,” says the Lord, “every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God” (Romans 14:11; NIV).


References:

Christ has truly set us free (Galatians 5:1; NLT).

He hears us (1 John 5:14; NLT).

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14:6; NLT).

Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep” (John 10:7; NKJV).

You can make this choice by loving the LORD your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life (Deuteronomy 30:20; NLT).

At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:10-11; NLT).


Reading: Isaiah 45:22-24; NIV

Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth;

For I am God, and there is no other.

By myself I have sworn,

My mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked:

Before me every knee will bow;

By me every tongue will swear.

They will say of me, “In the LORD alone are deliverance and strength.”