Prayer

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Pour out your heart to him (Psalm 62:8; NLT).

1. Prayer is worship,
Thanks, rejoicing;
Prayer is sorrow,
Fear, and pain.

2. Prayer is spending time
With Jesus,
As he loosens
Every chain.

3. Prayer is mercy,
Love, and healing;
Prayer is sharing
Every sin.

4. Prayer is being one
With Jesus,
So that we can grow
Like him.


References

1. Worship the Lord in all his holy splendour (1 Chronicles 16:29; NLT).

Give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18; RSV).

Rejoice always (1 Thessalonians 5:16; RSV).

I weep with sorrow (Psalm 119:28; NLT).

He will calm all your fears (Zephaniah 3:17; NLT).

Feel my pain (Psalm 25:18; NLT).

2. Pray constantly (1 Thessalonians 5:17; RSV).

He wanted to spend more time with his disciples and teach them (Mark 9:31; NLT).

You have loosed my bonds (Psalm 116:16; NKJV).

He snapped their chains (Psalm 107:14; NLT).

3. His mercy endures forever (Psalm 136:25; NKJV).

He loves us with unfailing love (Psalm 117:2; NLT).

I am the Lord, who heals you (Exodus 15:27; NIV).

You desire honesty from the womb (Psalm 51:6; NLT).

4. Whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit (1 Corinthians 6:17; NIV).

Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him (Colossians 3:10; NLT).

Waiting (#2 of 2 linked prayers) Blog

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Wait for the Lord (Psalm 37:34; NIV).

1. I wait in silence,
Ready to share your joy.

2. I wait in stillness,
Ready to share your life.

3. I wait, alone, Lord,
Ready to share your dread.

4. I wait in darkness,
Ready to share your light.


References

1. Be silent before the Sovereign Lord (Zephaniah 1:7; NIV).

Jesus was filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit (Luke 10:21; NLT).

I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! (John 15:11; NLT).

2. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him (Psalm 37:7; NIV).

When Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory (Colossians 3:4; NLT).

3. When you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private (Matthew 6:6; NLT).

Being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground (Luke 22:44; NIV).

If we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering (Romans 8:17; NLT).

4. You have taken away my companions and my loved ones. Darkness is my closest friend (Psalm 88:18; NLT).

I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life (John 8:12; NLT).

Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light (Micah 7:8; NLT).

I need you

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Why are you so far away when I groan for help?
(Psalm 22:1; NLT).

1. Father,
I need you.
I’m fearful and weak.

2. I beg you
To help me,
For life is so bleak.

3. Father,
I trust you.
I’m sorry, and sad.

4. I love you.
Forgive all my sins.
Make me glad.


References

1. I long for your rescue, O Lord (Psalm 119:166; NLT).

He knows how weak we are (Psalm 103:14; NLT).

2. Each day I beg for your help, O Lord (Psalm 88:9; NLT).

Darkness is my closest friend (Psalm 88:18; NLT).

3. I trust him with all my heart (Psalm 28:7; NLT).

All must repent of their sins (Acts 26:20; NLT).

4. I love you, Lord (Psalm 18:1; NLT).

Forgive us our sins (Luke 11:4; NLT).

He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy (Psalm 28:7; NLT).

Draw near

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My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
why are you so far away when I groan for help?
(Psalm 22:1; NLT).

1. Lord,
When I feel far from you,
Please help me to draw near,
For you are waiting patiently
Until I see you’re here.

2. Lord,
When I feel far from you,
Please help me to draw near,
For you are waiting patiently
To help me face each fear.

3. Lord,
When I feel far from you,
Please help me to draw near,
For you are waiting patiently
For me, year after year.


References

1. The Lord must wait for you to come to him (Isaiah 30:18; NLT).

2. I hold you by your right hand – I, the Lord your God. And I say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you’ (Isaiah 41:13; NLT).

3. The Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me (Psalm 16:8; NLT).

Flashback (for A.)

Image: rock-cafe, Yandex

When you go through deep waters, I will be with you
(Isaiah 43:2; NLT).

1. Here comes a flashback,
Always undesired:
My mother, screaming at me
Without restraint.

2. I’m two or three years old,
So I can neither
Understand her words,
Nor guess what lies behind them.

3. I’m at her mercy,
Paralysed by fear;
Helpless, lost, defenceless,
And alone.

4. But here you are, Lord,
Entering the scene.
You pick me up,
Then take my mother’s hand.

5. “Peace, be still!”
These are your only words.

6. You shine with love,
And radiate concern.
Your voice is steady, gentle, calm,
And kind.

7. You look at us
With perfect understanding.
Comfort and healing
Flow from your wounded hands.

8. My mother’s screaming stops.
My terror ends.
Together, we absorb
Your silent joy…

9. And then my flashback fades, but from now on
Every time this memory intrudes,
You will be present, Jesus, at its heart,
Just as you were, in fact, so long ago.


References

4. He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young (Isaiah 40:11; NIV).

5. He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm (Mark 4:39; NKJV).

6. His face shone like the sun (Matthew 17:2; NIV).

8. Jesus was filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit (Luke 10:21; NLT).

9. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me (Psalm 23:4; NLT).

In all their suffering he also suffered (Isaiah 63:9; NLT).

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows (Isaiah 53:4; NIV).

A letter (with thanks to M.R.)

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Trigger alert
Today’s blog is about emotional abuse, and its consequences.

Introduction
The following quotation sets the scene, though its relevance might not be clear until you have read the whole article:

Turn your steps towards these everlasting ruins, all this destruction the enemy has brought on the sanctuary. Your foes roared in the places where you met with us; they set up their standards as signs. They behaved like men wielding axes to cut through a thicket of trees. They smashed all the carved panelling with their axes and hatchets. They burned your sanctuary to the ground; they defiled the dwelling place of your Name. They said in their hearts, “We will crush them completely!” They burned every place where God was worshipped in the land (Psalm 74:3-8; NIV).

An open letter to my mother
Mother, despite claiming to love me, you established control over me from my early childhood onwards. You did this through scorn, criticism, bullying, condemnation, rage, and bouts of violent destructiveness. These behaviours made me fear you deeply. I lived in dread of your next outburst.

You continued to maintain control over me during my teenage years and adulthood, too, using intrusion, disapproval, and anger when I dared to express personal feelings, thoughts or beliefs you didn’t like. Similarly, you reacted with fury and threats of coercion if I tried to make my own decisions about what I wanted to do with my life. When I made mistakes, or got things wrong, you never forgave me, or forgot it. All this made me dread seeing you and spending time with you. I particularly hated the sound of your voice, and loathed you touching me, but was afraid to stand up to you, or to say “no”.

Your ways of controlling me have had severe, pervasive, long-term consequences for my mental health, in the form of low self-esteem, anxiety, dread, panic attacks and agoraphobia. I have also had to cope with a constant sense of not wanting to be alive, with chronic depression, and with episodes of acute depression. Furthermore, one question has always preyed on my mind:

How could you say you loved me, yet behave as you did towards me?

It didn’t make sense. I just couldn’t square what you said with what I experienced.

Then, on the 24th of May, 2020, a friend sent me a message she had seen on a Facebook site about domestic abuse. It read:

It’s not CONSENT if you make me afraid to say no.

I stared at these words, instantly electrified by their brevity, clarity and profound truth. Within seconds, a personal variation flashed into my mind:

It’s not LOVE if you make me afraid to say no.

Deeply stirred by this insight, further phrases began tumbling out of my unconscious mind. Here are just a few examples:

It’s not love if you make me afraid to disagree.

It’s not love if you criticise me all the time.

It’s not love if you make me afraid to be myself.

It’s not love if you make me afraid to choose for myself.

It’s not love if you belittle my achievements.

It’s not love if you only approve of me when I behave like you.

At last, in my late sixties, my friend’s message had given me the answer to my question: your behaviour towards me shows clearly that you did not, in fact, love me in any meaningful way at all.

This shocking realisation made me consider what kinds of behaviour do, in fact, reflect and express genuine love. Here are the best answers I’ve found so far:

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous, or boastful, or proud, or rude. It does not demand its own way (1 Corinthians 13:4-5; NLT).

It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:5; NIV).

I know that none of us is perfect, mother, but when I confronted you, you could at least have admitted what you did to me, and said you were sorry. Over the years, I managed to raise the subject of your behaviour with you several times, always at huge personal cost. However, you never responded with genuine understanding or honesty, instead always trying to justify, minimise, or deny what you had done.

For many years now, I have worked hard to forgive you. Sometimes I even think I’ve succeeded. Fortunately, God understands and accepts the intense anger and bitterness that can still occasionally emerge from my mind, heart and soul. Slowly, gently, he gives me the insights I need in order to be healed, for which I am profoundly thankful.

Ruth.


References

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honouring each other (Romans 12:9; NLT).

Do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them (Ephesians 6:4; NLT).

I am the Lord, who heals you (Exodus 15:27; NIV).

Have faith

Come to me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens,
and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28; NLT).

1. Turn to Christ for healing;
Cry out, for he is near.
Have faith that he will help you
When you suffer pain and fear.

2. Ask him to forgive you,
Confessing every sin,
And trust that he will help you
While you try to change within.

3. Bear your cross, and follow;
Let Jesus share your load.
Rely on him to help you
As you walk his narrow road.


References

1. If you are willing, you can heal me (Luke 5:12; NLT).

He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering” (Mark 5:34; NIV).

2. Forgive us our sins (Luke 11:4; NLT).

Trust in God (John 14:1; NLT).

3. Take up your cross and follow me (Matthew 16:24; NLT).

Small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life (Matthew 7:13-14; NIV).

Presence

The Lord is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it
(Genesis 28:16; NLT).

1. God is present in all things:
In joy and pain,
In loss, and gain;
In smiles and tears,
In plans, and fears.

2. God is present in all things:
In earth and sky,
In land, and sea;
In life and death,
In you, and me.


References

1. There is […] one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all (Ephesians 4:5-6; NLT).

In all their suffering he also suffered (Isaiah 63:9; NLT).

2. “Am I not everywhere in all the heavens and earth?” says the Lord (Jeremiah 23:4; NLT).

Should we accept only good things from the hand of God, and never anything bad? (Job 2:10; NLT).

You are the temple of the living God (2 Corinthians 6:16; NLT).

You understand

With thanks to Walter Rane

Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows
(John 16:33; NLT).

1. You understand our struggles
And misfortunes;
You understand our failures,
And our fears.

2. You understand our losses
And afflictions;
You understand our anguish,
And our tears.

3. You understand our secrets
And temptations;
You understand our lives –
Each bitter pill.

4. You understand the tests
We must endure, Lord,
For you have shared them all –
And share them still.


References

1. He made their hearts, so he understands everything they do (Psalm 33:15; NLT).

The Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought (1 Chronicles 28:9; NIV).

2. When Mary arrived and saw Jesus, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died” […] Then Jesus wept. The people who were standing nearby said, “See how much he loved him!” (John 11:32,35-6; NLT).

Being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground (Luke 22:44; NIV).

3. He knows the secrets of every heart (Psalm 44:21; NLT).

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil (Luke 4:1-2; NIV).

If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine (Matthew 26:39; NLT).

They also gave me gall for my food, and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink (Psalm 69:21; NKJV).

4. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all the same testings we do (Hebrews 4:15; NLT).

In all their suffering he also suffered (Isaiah 63:9; NLT).

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows (Isaiah 53:4; NIV).

With love

Do everything with love
(1 Corinthians 16:14; NLT).

1. Face all you feel with love:
Grief, anger, shame, pain, fear.
Share everything with God,
For he is always near.

2. Observe your thoughts with love:
Hate, envy, judgement, pride.
Confess them all to God,
Who will not blame, or chide.

3. Speak every word with love:
Don’t mock, abuse, or lie.
Admit your sins to God,
Who hears our victims cry.

4. Do everything with love:
This principle is clear;
Just ask the Father’s help,
For he is always here.


References

1. You are near (Psalm 75:1; NLT).

2. I confess my sins (Psalm 38:18; NLT).

He will not always chide (Psalm 103:9; RSV).

3. Speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15; NLT).

The Lord hears the cries of the needy (Psalm 69:33; NLT).

4. Do everything with love (1 Corinthians 16:14; NLT).

Love your enemies! (Matthew 5:44; NLT).

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them (Romans 12:9; NLT).

Help me, Lord (Psalm 30:10; NLT).

I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, that he may be with you forever (John 14:16; NASB).