20.9.22: The source of prayer

Context: Yesterday, I woke and began to pray, as usual. My list of people to pray for was at hand, but it is long, and I was weary of pushing myself to pray for each one in turn. So instead I just opened myself to being led in prayer.

Almost immediately, I received the first line of today’s blog, and wrote it down, then waited quietly, to see what would happen next. This is what I experienced:

The source of prayer is deep within. It comes from God, who lives in every soul (1).

God is our breath, our spirit, and our Saviour (2).

So I allowed God’s Spirit to guide my prayers (3). 

I prayed very simply for those who came to mind, feeling peaceful and unhurried (4).

To my considerable relief, no further insights arose from the dark depths of my unconscious mind. This meant I wouldn’t have to spend the day trying to express something that was difficult to put into words.

After praying for others until no more names appeared, I worshipped in silence until my prayer reached a comfortable, natural ending (5). 

It was bliss (6).


References 

1. You are the temple of the living God (Luke 17:21; NKJV).

Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us (Colossians 3:11; NLT).

Don’t you realise that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16; NLT).

2. The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life (Job 33:4; NLT). 

I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior (Isaiah 43:3; NLT). 

3. The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God (Romans 8:26-7; NRSV).

4. 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). 

5. YHWH is in the Holy Temple: let all the earth be silent in God’s presence (Habakkuk 2:20; TIB). 

6. Thou makest me to know the path of life; in Thy presence is fulness of joy, in Thy right hand bliss for evermore (Psalm 16:11; JPS Tanakh 1917). 

God

Context: As soon as I woke and started to pray today, this is what I saw:

  • Only God is worthy to be worshipped by all people, creatures and things.
  • God makes, maintains and ends them all.
  • God lives over, in and through them all.
  • God can never be destroyed.
  • God is the First and the Last: infinite and eternal.
  • God is Love.

Then, as soon as I began to worship, this little prayer arrived:

God:

1. My Father,
And my Mother;

2. Spirit: Sister;
Jesus: Brother;

3. Maker, Shepherd,
Saviour, Lover:

4. You are all;
I want no other.

God will be all in all (1 Corinthians 15:28; TIB).

The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.
(Psalm 23:1; NLT).


References 

1. You are our mother and father, YHWH; we are the clay and you are the potter, we are all the work of your hands (Isaiah 64:8; TIB). 

2. Say to wisdom, “You are my sister” (Proverbs 7:4; NIV). 

God has revealed this wisdom to us through the Holy Spirit. She searches out all things, even the deep things of God (1 Corinthians 2:10; TIB). 

Anyone who does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother (Mark 3:35; NLT). 

3. You cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things (Ecclesiastes 11:5; NIV). 

The Lord is my shepherd (Psalm 23:1; NLT). 

I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior (Isaiah 43:3; NLT). 

My lover is mine and I am his (Song of Songs 2:16; NLT).

4. I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him (Philippians 3:8-9; NLT).

God has put all things under Christ’s feet and made Christ, as the ruler of everything, the head of the church, and the church is Christ’s body; it’s the fullness of the One who fills all of creation (Ephesians 1:22; TIB). 

He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all (Ephesians 1:22; NKJV). 

This is what the Lord says – Israel’s King and Redeemer, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies: “I am the First and the Last; there is no other God” (Isaiah 44:6; NLT). 

You forgive and forget

Context: Today I’m writing an article I was given this morning to work on. I’m very tired, and have had a small eye surgery, so it’s not finished yet. Accordingly, I have brought out of my “storeroom” a blog I got ready a little while ago (see Matthew 13:52, for the allusion).


You must love the Lord your God with all your heart,
all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.
(Luke 10:27; NLT).

I will forgive their sins and forget the evil things
they have done (Jeremiah 31:34; CEV).  

I love you, Lord, with all my mind,
And honour you within,
Because you pardon me each day,
Forgetting all my sin.

I love you, Lord, with all my heart,
And glory in your name,
Because you pardon me each day,
Forgetting all my shame.

I love you, Lord, with all my soul,
And follow you, my Guide,
Because you pardon me each day,
Forgetting all my pride. 

I love you, Lord, with all my strength,
And put my trust in you –
Please help me, Lord, to show my love
In everything I do. 

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

Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers
and sisters of mine, you did for me.
(Matthew 25:40; NIV).

Wrapped

Context: This song of praise began to form whilst I was dancing for joy in the shower. When I got out to wrap myself in a large, homely towel, I was able to note it down. It was a pleasure to work on it during a completely unstructured day of rest following my long journey.

Don’t be afraid. Just have faith (Mark 5:36; NLT). 

1. I’m wrapped in faith, in hope and truth;
In praise and peace that never end.

2. I’m wrapped in joy, in thanks and prayer;
In all you give, and take and lend.

3. I’m wrapped in weakness and in strength;
In everything you make and send.

4. I’m wrapped in sickness, life and death;
In all you wound, and break and mend.

5. I’m wrapped in ecstasy and light;
In shadow, and the love of Christ.

I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings (Psalm 63:7; NLT). 

May you experience the love of Christ (Ephesians 3:19; NLT).


References 

1. Three things will last forever – faith, hope, and love  (1 Corinthians 13:13; NLT). 

The Spirit is truth (1 John 5:6; NKJV).

The Lord is peace (Judges 6:24; NLT). 

2. Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; NIV).

The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord (Job 1:21; CSB). 

3. My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9; NLT). 

The Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength (Isaiah 26:4; KJV).

He created the earth and everything in it (Isaiah 42:5; NLT).

Everything you have is from God (1 Corinthians 4:7; NLT).

4. He himself sent this sickness (Isaiah 38:15; NLT). 

The LORD gives both death and life (1 Samuel 2:6; NLT).

He breaks the bow and snaps the spear (Psalm 46:9; NLT). 

He breaks the pride of princes (Psalm 76:12; NLT). 

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

5. I became in ecstasy (Acts 22:17; DBY).

Then she was in ecstasy (2 Chronicles 9:4; BST).

God is light (1 John 1:5; NLT).

In his shadow have I rapture (Song of Songs 2:3; DBY). 

God is love (1 John 4:8; NLT).

You are my worship


Context: Yesterday I had breakfast in bed, followed by a very quiet morning, as the day before had included a migraine. Then, in the afternoon, my family took me to Wicken Fen, one of my favourite places in the UK. Wicken is a very “thin” place, where God whispers from the reed beds, stirs the water, and walks beneath the trees. For me, it represents the Garden of Eden. I’ve enjoyed many visits over the years, so being there brought back memories from when I was able to cycle, walk for miles, and explore freely. I thought my physical limitations might make me feel sad, but in fact I experienced no regrets. I’m getting old, and God is all I need now, as today’s prayer describes:

I will come to the altar of God, to God, my greatest joy.
(Psalm 43:4; CSB). 

1. You are my worship,
And my joy,

2. My Teacher,
And my creed;

3. My suffering, my test,
My way –

4. My God:
You’re all I need.

My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.
(2 Corinthians 12:9; NLT). 

The LORD is my shepherd;
I have all that I need (Psalm 23:1; NLT).


References 

1. Send out your light and your truth; let them guide me. Let them lead me to your holy mountain, to the place where you live. There I will go to the altar of God, to God – the source of all my joy (Psalm 43:3-4; NLT). 

2. You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am (John 13:13; NLT).

Jesus is ‘the stone rejected by the builders which has become the cornerstone.’ There is no salvation in anyone else, for there is no other name under heaven given to the human race by which we must be saved (Acts 4:11-12; TIB). 

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

The LORD your God is testing you to see if you truly love him with all your heart and soul (Deuteronomy 13:3; NLT).

Jesus answered, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:7; NLT). 

4.  You are my God! (Psalm 31:14; NLT). 

Practicing your presence

Context: A few days ago, on 13.7.22, I posted a blog outlining the daily conflict I experience between praying and writing (https://wp.me/p45bCr-bxF). 

Since then, I have continued to face this long-standing issue, until I had a significant breakthrough two days ago. In the evening, whilst preparing for yesterday’s  journey to the UK, I chose one of my favourite books to take with me. It was: “The practice of the presence of God”, by Brother Lawrence, who became a Carmelite lay-brother in 1666. Though small in size, it offers deep spiritual wisdom, comfort and encouragement. Unable to resist opening it, I came across  the writer’s familiar advice, “That we should establish ourselves in a sense of GOD’S Presence, by continually conversing with Him.”

In his constant practice of the presence of God, Brother Lawrence drew no distinction between the times set aside for prayer, and his work in a busy monastery kitchen. “The time of business,” said he, “does not with me differ from the time of prayer; and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess GOD in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the blessed sacrament.”

I’ve read these words before, but this time, they struck home in a new way. At last, I grasped that as long as I am continually practicing a sense of God’s presence by loving, worshipping and communing with God, there is no conflict at all between praying and writing – or any other activity, for that matter. This is what it means to, “Pray continually”.

So, yesterday morning, a new prayer flowered from what I had learned, though it proved very difficult to express. Having a constant headache, and feeling stressed about the day’s journey made it all the harder. However, I was able to write this blog on the boat, having even used the lift to reach my seat – praise God!

Pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17; NIV). 

Yahweh,

When I’m practicing
Your presence,

Prayer and writing
Never clash,

Because, no matter
What I’m doing,

We continue to commune
In love.

We know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them (1 John 4:16; NIV). 

You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever (Psalm 16:11; NLT).

Heaven is now

Context: Just as I finished writing yesterday’s context, I saw how to express in writing the heaven I had experienced during prayer (https://wp.me/p45bCr-bwn), so I noted it down immediately, and began to work on it.

As I researched its references later in the day, it was fascinating to see, as always, the widely different ways in which individual Bible verses are translated. The relevant verse here is Luke 17:21, and I want to focus for a moment on just one word: ἐντὸς, which tells the reader where the kingdom of God is experienced. The multiple translations I consulted offered many different shades of meaning to express this single, original Greek preposition (some of these can be seen in the references below). NB: To my great surprise, today’s blog includes several of these different meanings, even though I didn’t write it with that aim.

Translation is such an important issue for me, because different translations can generate different beliefs. For example, here is the phrase from Luke 17:21, in which the word ἐντὸς is used, firstly in the KJV (the emphasis is mine):

The kingdom of God is within you.

Then here it is in the ABPI:

The Kingdom of God is within some of you.

Clearly, these two  translations have radically different meanings, with potentially major consequences for the thinking, speech and even behaviour of those whose Biblical access is usually limited to a single translation.

Finally, in the references for today’s prayer I use the terms kingdom of heaven and kingdom of God interchangeably. This follows the example of the gospels, where the term chosen by each writer depends on the target group for which each gospel was intended.

Anyway, after this rather long preamble, here is today’s blog:

Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it!” But he was also afraid and said, “What an awesome place this is! It is none other than the house of God, the very gateway to heaven!” (Genesis 28:16-17; NLT). 

1. Heaven on earth,
And heaven in prayer;
Heaven in worship:
Heaven is near.

2. Heaven within,
And heaven without;
Heaven in service:
Heaven is here.

3. Heaven in all,
And heaven in Thou;
Heaven in oneness:
Heaven is now!

The Kingdom of God is already among you
(Luke 17:21; NLT).


References 

1. The Kingdom of Heaven is near (Matthew 10:7; NLT).

2. The kingdom of God is within you (Luke 17:21; KJV). 

God’s kingdom is here with you (Luke 17:21; CEV). 

3. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all (Ephesians 4:5-6; NLT). 

Transfixed

Be still, and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10; NLT). 

Transfixed by God in stillness,
Here I wait, for you are always near,
To share each prayer, and sigh and tear
Together.

Transfixed by God in silence,
Now I worship wordlessly, and bow,
For you are with me, I and Thou,
My Saviour.

 Transfixed by God in solitude,
I celebrate your perfect love,
Renewed, forgiven through your blood
Forever.

Transfixed by God in darkness,
Lord, your Spirit hovers here, adored;
Though made of dust, I am restored
To wholeness.

Transfixed by God in perfect bliss,
I cleave to you; we interweave:
United, may I never leave
Your presence.

Let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.
(Hebrews 10:22; NLT).  

Because of Christ and our faith in him,
we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.
(Ephesians 3:12; NLT). 

I worship you


Context: This prayer is an outpouring of joy, as I slowly come to feel God’s love. I have always felt essentially unlovable, so this is a very new experience for me. It’s taken me a long time to reach this stage of faith development, because I never felt loved as a child, nor did I love my parents. Excitingly, I have already begun moving into a new future, in which I am slowly learning to show love to myself.


Worship God (Revelation 22:9; KJV). 

I worship you,
Creator God:
Yahweh,
Elohim –
My Lord.

I live in you,
And you in me:
One love,
Adoring –
And adored.

Yours, O LORD, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O LORD, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as the one who is over all things.
(1 Chronicles 29:11; NLT).

Long ago the LORD said to Israel: “I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.”
(Jeremiah 31:3; NLT). 

Totality in One

Context: A quiet day today. I made breakfast and took it back to bed, which is something I very rarely do. The morning brought the reflective verses below, whilst part of the afternoon was spent gardening in breezy sunshine under a beautiful blue sky.


God said to Moses, “I am Yahweh – ‘the LORD'”
(Exodus 6:2; NLT).

God,
Totality in One,
More brilliant than the rising sun;
No time, beginning, limit, end:
I love you.

God,
Eternity within,
No hate, or fear; no greed, or sin;
Pure love, light, fire; pure truth and peace:
I praise you.

God,
The mystery in all,
Concealed by darkness, yet you call
On me to worship, learn, and grow
Like you.

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