When my mind is closed

They have closed their minds and hardened their hearts
(Ephesians 4:18; NLT).

Yahweh,
When my mind is closed,
Remind me how, when Jesus rose,
He came to Mary, and to those
Who trusted.

Yahweh,
When my heart is hard,
Please show me how my way is barred
By prejudice; your face, marred
By my judgements.

Yahweh,
When I start to preach,
May I remember what you teach:
Love everyone, and help me reach
Your standard.

This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ (Ephesians 4:13; NLT).


References 

May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you (1 Thessalonians 3:12; NIV). 

Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against a fellow Israelite, but love your neighbour as yourself (Leviticus 19:18; NLT).

Love the stranger (Deuteronomy 10:19; NKJV).

Show love to foreigners (Deuteronomy 10:19; NLT).

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

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26; NIV).

Faith and hope

Context: Yesterday, after praying for others, there was nothing else I needed to say, so I fell silent. This time of wordless communion was eventually brought to an end by the arrival of today’s blog. It was easy to grasp, but extremely hard to put into words, perhaps because I’m still very tired after my journey back from the UK. 


Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love (Romans 5:2-5; NLT).

Lord,
Once I have prayed for others,
Faith and hope remain,
And, when I am sick and weary,
Patience will sustain.

Lord,
Once I have said I’m sorry,
Love and peace abide,
And, when I request forgiveness,
Mercy will provide.

Lord,
Once I have asked your blessing,
Bounty is assured,
And, when I accept your wishes,
All can be endured.

Lord,
Though I have tried my hardest,
I have often failed,
Yet, when you receive my soul,
I’ll see your face, unveiled.


References

The dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7; NIV). 

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known (1 Corinthians 13:12; KJV). 

We all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3:18; NKJV). 

The flood

Context: Recently, I’ve been thinking about the flood narrative in Genesis, which illustrates the disastrous consequences of sinful, human behaviour:

YHWH saw the great wickedness of the people of the earth, that the thoughts in their hearts fashioned nothing but evil. YHWH was sorry that humankind had been created on earth; it pained God’s heart. YHWH said, “I will wipe this human race that I have created from the face of the earth – not only the humans, but also the animals, the reptiles, and the birds of the heavens. I am sorry I ever made them” (Genesis 6:5-7; TIB). 

So God sent a great flood to wipe out all living things:

For forty days the flood continued… The waters rose so high over the earth that all the high mountains under heaven were covered… All life on the earth perished – birds, domestic animals, wild animals, all swarming creatures, and all humankind (Genesis 7:17-21; TIB).

The TIB translation includes an interesting scholarly footnote for this passage:

“Some commentators feel the story of the Flood speaks of the ending of the last ice age, when the melt from the receding glaciers raised the sea level high enough to submerge much of what had before been dry land.”

The Biblical flood story is usually seen as being safely in the past, but it recently occurred to me that it can also be understood as a prophecy, for as global warming melts the polar ice-caps, similarly catastrophic flooding is becoming inevitable.

Of course, some readers may rightly point out that after the flood God promised never to cause such terrible destruction again (Genesis 8:21; TIB). However, modern climate change is not an act of God. Rather, it is caused by human over-exploitation of finite earthly resources. The causes and consequences of global warming are therefore ours alone, as we move ever further from our original commission to, “cultivate and care for the land” (Genesis 2:15; TIB). 

So, flowing from these reflections, here is today’s prayer:

From the least to the greatest, their lives are ruled by greed.
(Jeremiah 6:13; NLT). 

Lord,

How can you bear our wastefulness?
How can you bear our greed?
How can you bear our selfishness?
How can you bear our hate?

How can you bear our ignorance?
How can you bear our pride?
How can you bear our foolishness?
You weep in us all, and wait. 

How can you bear our bitterness?
How can you bear our strife?
How can you bear our wickedness?
How can you bear our sin?

How can you bear our cruelty?
How can you bear our wars?
How can you bear our lovelessness?
You weep, Lord, and wait within. 

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

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

You alone are God

Context: Truly exhausted, I have arrived safely in Ely (UK), at last. Yesterday’s 5-hour train ride was SO exciting, and I met some wonderful people, learning about their lives and the purpose of their journeys, and sharing the pleasure of their achievements. To my delight, I coped well with several very long tunnels, and even managed the loo, though I admit I did not lock the door. Today’s photo is an action-shot, taken as the train passed through a station, just to prove I was really there!

I will make all my goodness pass before you,

and I will call out my name, Yahweh, before you.
(Exodus 33:19; NLT).


Yahweh,
You alone are God:
My birth, my breath,
My everything.

You live in me,
And I in you:
So we are one
In all I do.

Yahweh,
You alone are God:
Inspire my weary heart
To sing

Through every word,
My soul laid bare –
Till all my life
Becomes a prayer.

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

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).

Chant

Context: This simple chant of praise flowed spontaneously in the early morning a couple of days ago. It goes with a swing, and is the perfect blog for today, because my heart is overflowing with joy.

Some of you will know that I am currently facing up to my life-long, severe claustrophobia. Today, with my husband, I successfully tackled the busy, windowless lift in a major department store – one I never imagined myself using under any circumstances.

Then, for the first time in my whole life, I went in a lift on my own. Admittedly it was made of glass, but it was still a very significant achievement for me. In fact, I can hardly believe I’m even writing this, let alone that I did it!

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth
(Genesis 1:1; NLT). 

1. Yahweh fashions all there is,
Living, dying, rising –
Lord, I praise you.

2. Jesus comes to set me free,
Living, dying, rising –
Lord, I serve you.

3. Rucha* prays on my behalf,
Living, dying, rising –
Lord, I thank you.

4. I in you, and you in me,
Living, dying, rising –
Lord, I love you.

Nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us
from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord
(Romans 8:39; NLT).


References 

1. He himself gives life and breath to everything (Acts 17:25; NLT). 

2.  He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free [and] to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour (Luke 4:18-19; NIV). 

3. *Rucha means ‘spirit’ in Aramaic. It is a feminine noun (Wikibooks).

The Spirit, too, comes to help us in our weakness. For we don’t know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit expresses our plea with groanings too deep for words. And God, who knows everything in our hearts, knows perfectly well what the Spirit is saying, because her intercessions for God’s holy people are made according to the mind of God (Romans 8:26-7; TIV). 

4. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them (1 John 4:16; NLT).

Elohim


Context:
This prayer arrived early in the morning when I’d only just woken up. There are times when I hide under my duvet, because what I receive feels so awesome, and this was one of those times. Seeing and writing it left me quite shaky for a couple of hours.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
(Genesis 1:1; TIV). 

Yahweh,
Maker and Sustainer,
Living, loving
All in all.

 Jesus,
Light and truth, divine,
God’s human face,
The Chosen One.

Spirit Being
Sister, Brother,
Breath of God,
Like flame; like dew.

*Elohim,
All One, All Love,
All Ways in me,
And I in you.

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).


Notes and acknowledgements

*Elohim: is a Hebrew word meaning “gods”. Although the word is plural in form, in the Hebrew Bible it usually refers to a single deity, particularly (but not always) the God of Israel. At other times it refers to deities in the plural (Wikipedia). 

Spirit: The word for “spirit” (rucha, ruach) in Aramaic and Hebrew, is feminine whereas in Greek (pneuma), it is neutral in gender. On some occasions in the Greek text, masculine verb endings and pronouns are used with the neutral gender word “Spirit” when speaking about the Holy Spirit, and sometimes it is without the definite article – i.e. just “Holy Spirit”.

Although in the Aramaic text rucha is feminine, it also uses masculine grammatical forms with the word. This conveys the male/female attributes of Yahweh carried in His ‘breath’ which of itself is neutral in gender. Being often addressed as “it” and “the”, also confirms that it is another “Person” in a trinity of ‘gods’. The term, “Holy Spirit” is a descriptive title. It is a description given for a specific manifestation of the Father’s Spirit Being (Wikibooks).

To Yahweh

God is greater than we can understand (Job 36:26; NLT). 

Whatever I understand of you
Must grow,
Yet, always, I remain
Safe in your hand.

Wise father? Loving mother?
You just smile
And wait for me to learn.
You don’t berate,

For you are Yahweh:
God, so full of grace
That one day even I
Will see your face.

Then, though I’ve been so slow,
My love, so small,
You will reveal YourSelf
As All in all.

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


References

What you have done is put aside your old self with its past deeds and put on a new self, one that grows in knowledge as it is formed anew in the image of its Creator. And in that image, there is no Greek or Hebrew; no Jew or Gentile; no barbarian or Scythian; no slave or citizen. There is only Christ, who is all in all (Colossians 11:9-11; TIV). 

Now, see for yourself that I am that God! There is no god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life; I wound and I will heal, and no one can deliver out of my hand (Deuteronomy 32:39; TIV).

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

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28; NKJV).

Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all people will see it together (Isaiah 40:5; NLT).

A vision in a dream (5.7.22.)

The heavens herald your glory, O God, and the skies display your handiwork. Day after day they tell their story, and night after night they reveal the depth of their understanding (Psalm 19:1-2; TIV). 

Let all that I am praise the LORD. O LORD my God, how great you are! You are robed with honour and majesty. You are dressed in a robe of light. You stretch out the starry curtain of the heavens (Psalm 104:1-2; NLT). 

Last night, I dreamed that when I looked up at a beautiful, blue, day-time sky, wonderfully streaked with white clouds, it changed in a moment to the most ravishing, stunning night sky I had ever seen.

The darkness of the vast, over-arching firmament was filled with countless stars, bright and dim, great and small, amongst which I could also see planets. The whole vision was alive: I was watching what was actually happening high above me at that very moment.

In the dream, this vision happened several times over the course of a few days, and in conversation with a clergyman, I described it to him. His response was fascinating: he told me that the next time it occurred, I should try to extend the vision at its edges, so I could see even more. I suspected that he wanted to know what might be revealed. However, I knew immediately that I would not do as he suggested, for two reasons.

Firstly, during each vision, I was fully absorbed in what I was experiencing. Transfixed by its beauty and wonder, I was overwhelmed with joy and awe. Thus, I had no capacity to think beyond the moment.   

Secondly, I knew that each vision was complete. I was seeing what Yahweh wanted me to see, nothing more, and and nothing less, so I had no desire to attempt to extend it in any way. 

Then I woke up, began to pray, and knew immediately that I had to write down all I had experienced whilst sleeping. 

To whom can you liken me? Who is my equal?” says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes and ask yourself who made these stars, if not the One who drills them like an army, calling each by name? Because God is so great in strength, so mighty in power, not a single one is missing (Isaiah 40:25-6; TIV). 

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).