Altar of incense

February 7, 2014

From Wikipedia:

On this altar incense was burned daily at the time of the morning and the evening sacrifices. The coals used on this altar had to be taken from the Altar of Burnt Offerings. The incense used had to be made according to a specific formula (Exodus 30:34-35), and no other incense was permitted (Exodus 30:9). According to Jewish tradition, the incense was made by the Avtinas family, who closely guarded its secret.

The Talmud relates that the priestly family of Avtinas knew a secret ingredient — Maaleh Ashan — that had the ability to make the smoke from the incense rise straight up in a column.

Psalm 141:2 (ESV)
Let my prayer be counted as incense before you,
and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!

Revelation 5:8 (ESV)
And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.

Revelation 8:3-4 (ESV)
And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel.

We thank You, Father, for the golden altar of incense in the tabernacle, for the golden bowls full of incense in the throne room of heaven and the golden censer at Your altar. We thank You, Father, for the gift of prayer. Amen.


ACNA Diocese of Mid Atlantic: Intercessory Prayer Workshop – Talks available online

November 15, 2012

A while back, I posted a notice here about an Intercessory Prayer workshop in the ACNA Diocese of the Mid Atlantic.

The talks from that workshop are now online.  You can get more details and find all the links here. 

Here’s a partial listing of what’s available:

  • A full listing of all the workshop talks and Q &A’s are here.

Fr. Dan Martins: On the Efficacy of Prayer

October 26, 2012

Yesterday I came across an excellent reflection about prayer from Bp. Dan Martins of the Diocese of Springfield (who happens to be one of the Bishops charged in the whole “Bishopsgate” mess for which Jill is posting regular prayers.) He reflects on our attitude about prayer. Do we view it as a “tool” – something that either “works” or “doesn’t work?” Or is it something much deeper / greater? I found it a very challenging question, and a helpful reflection.  I am praying for Bp. Dan, Bp. Mark Lawrence and all the other orthodox bishops charged with offenses by TEC that they will find much comfort and strength in prayer in these days. That in their times of prayer, and as we pray for them, that God will minister lavish strength and grace and wisdom and joy to each of them, causing them to more perfectly reflect and shine forth the Glory of Jesus. – Karen

Here’s an excerpt from Bp. Dan’s blog entry:

Is prayer a tool? Is prayer something available for us to use, like a lawn mower or Blue Emu ointment? Would we say to someone, “Hey, try praying. If it works, great. If not, move on to something else.”?

These questions are difficult to answer with a flat out No, because it just doesn’t feel right to demean something as sacred and precious to so many people as prayer. But it also doesn’t feel right to cheapen prayer by putting it in the same category as Blue Emu ointment–just one more thing to try, and see if it works.

I suspect that, if we’re going to talk about prayer as a tool, we would do well to think of it as a tool for God’s use, not ours. God’s pet project is to redeem the universe, and that includes the defeat of pain and suffering, from the trivial to the substantial to the cosmic. Blue Emu ointment is one small thread in the grand tapestry of redemption. Prayer is another one, though, I think it’s safe to say, a much larger and more significant one. How all these threads fit together is something we can only catch rare glimpses of from our human point of view this side of Eternity. The virtue of humility, ever an aspirational virtue, seems to call for a certain degree of reticence in our statements about just how God is accomplishing his purposes.

I shall keep praying. “While I breathe, I pray” (Andrew of Crete in the 7th century, via the magisterial translator John Mason Neale). I shall also keep an eye peeled for “God sightings”–miracles. But I’m still going to be uneasy about thinking of prayer as a tool at my disposal.

The full entry is here.


Changing the World Begins with Prayer

October 4, 2012

I recently came across an encouraging and challenging reminder about the centrality of prayer in seeing spiritual transformation.  Here’s an excerpt:

James Fraser was a pioneer missionary to the Lisu people in Western China. He would labor more than five years before seeing his first convert. It would be an accurate assessment to call him a “prayer missionary.” He understood the essential nature of prayer if the Gospel was to reach and change the world. He understood that anything lasting and eternally significant would be the result of waves of prayers that believed God to do something great for his glory. Fraser wrote, “Solid, lasting missionary work is done on our knees. … The Spirit must be continually maintained in strength by unceasing prayer, especially against the powers of darkness. All I have learned of other aspects of the victory-life is useless without this.”

The work of reaching and changing the world is, indeed, a work done on our knees. And, it is a work that takes on the nature of fierce and intense warfare. After all, one of Satan’s chief weapons is to cut off communication with God, communication that takes place in prayer. John Piper is certainly correct when he writes, “Prayer is meant by God to be a wartime walkie-talkie, not a domestic intercom … not for the enhancement of our comforts but for the advancement of Christ’s Kingdom.”

The full article is here.


Bp. John Guernsey on Intercession and “Standing in the Gap”

September 10, 2012

I just came across a good teaching / exhortation about intercessory prayer written by Bp. John Guernsey and posted on the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic’s webpage. I’ve posted it in full below.

Towards the end of the teaching, there is also an announcement about a workshop on intercessory prayer being held in Woodbridge, VA on November 10.   I’ve had the wonderful privilege of meeting, getting to know and praying with Rose Marie Edwards-Tasker, and strongly encourage anyone in the D.C. area or reasonably close environs to attend!  -  Karen

Standing in the Gap

Dear Friends,

A wise pastor once taught me, “Prayer is not preparation for the battle. Prayer is the battle.” The Apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 6 that the conflict we face in this world is fundamentally a spiritual one. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (verse 12).

“Put on the full armor of God,” Paul tells us (verse 11). We’re in a spiritual battle. The enemy is the devil and his demonic forces, not flesh and blood, not human beings, no matter how much people annoy us or hinder us or hurt us. The real enemy is in the spiritual realm and so the enemy must be fought wearing spiritual armor and wielding spiritual weapons.

Paul exhorts us to put on the elements of our armor: truth and righteousness and the readiness of the gospel of peace and faith and salvation. He tells us to use the use the Word of God which is a mighty sword in the battle. But then he goes to emphasize the part of our spiritual equipment that, in my experience, is often overlooked: prayer, and in particular prayer for those in spiritual authority over us.

He says, “Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people” (verses 17-18). God provides for us and protects us as we cry out to Him in prayer. Everything about our life and ministry—for ourselves, our families and our churches—rests upon a foundation of prayer.

Read the rest of this entry »


Becoming a people of mercy

July 14, 2012

In the wake of General Convention, this article spoke to me.–JW
From Francis Frangipane
:

It is right that we should be troubled by the sins of our nation. But we must remember, all nations sin. All cultures have seasons of moral decline and spiritual malaise. Yet these periods can become turning points if, in times of distress, leaders and intercessors cry to the Lord for mercy. Thus, Christlike prayer brings redemption out of disaster.

The church was created not to fulfill God’s wrath, but to complete His mercy. True prayer is born of love and comes in the midst of sin and need. It comes not to condemn, but to cover.

Jesus said His Father’s house would be a “house of prayer for all the nations” (Mark 11:17). Consider passionately this phrase: “prayer for.” Jesus taught His disciples to “pray for” those who would persecute or mistreat them (Matt. 5:44). When Job “prayed for” his friends (Job 42:10), God fully restored him. We are to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Ps. 122:6), and “pray for” each other so that we may be healed (James 5:16). Paul wrote that God “desires all men to be saved” (1 Tim. 2:4). Therefore, he urged “that entreaties and prayers…be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority” (vv. 1-2).

The nature of our calling is to pray for people in difficulty, in sin, in sickness, and in need of God. . . .

Our goal is not merely the exposure of sin, but also the unveiling of the sacrifice for sin. Our great commission is to bring healing and the message of God’s mercy to the nations. . . . May the Lord give us a clear vision of this truth: intercession is the essence of Christ’s life. Not only is He now at the right hand of the Father interceding for us (Rom. 8:34), but His coming to earth and dying for sins was one extended act of intercession. Jesus beheld the depravity of mankind’s sin. He examined it carefully in all of its offensiveness, perversity, and repulsiveness. Yes, He rebuked it when necessary, but the wonder of the Gospel is that, in spite of mankind’s sin, God so deeply loved the world that He sent His Son to die for us (John 3:16-17).

We are called to follow this same amazing pattern of mercy.

We are not minimizing sin when we maximize Christ’s mercy. There is a difference between whitewashing sin and bloodwashing it. The reality that compels God’s heart—that is an underlying principle of life—is “mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13). To live a life of mercy corresponds perfectly with God’s heart. Mercy precisely fulfills the divine purpose: to transform man into the Redeemer’s image.


The role of prayer in unseen warfare (Scupoli)

May 20, 2012

      “It is where we fight and pray together, in the same spiritual combat against the same unseen enemies, that we shall find ourselves to be one army – not become one army, but discover that we are one.”   H.A.Hodges

CHAPTER FIFTY-THREE

The role of prayer in unseen warfare

 

In speaking of prayer I drew your attention above all to the means of raising prayer to the level to which it belongs. It might seem strange to you that, since we are speaking of unseen warfare, and you wish to know in what way prayer can help in it, all you have heard of was how to make prayer real prayer. Do not be surprised, for prayer can become a victorious weapon in unseen warfare only when it becomes real, that is, when it takes root in the heart and begins to act there unceasingly. From that moment it becomes an impenetrable, unconquerable and insuperable barrier, protecting the soul from the arrows of the enemy, the passionate assaults of the flesh, and the enticements of the world with its prelest. [Real prayer’s] very presence in the heart cuts off the unseen warfare. This is why you were advised to make haste and graft the action of prayer on to your heart, and to see that it should remain in ceaseless movement. For this is the same as to say: do this and you will conquer, even without struggle.

And indeed this is how it actually happens. But until your prayer reaches such power, enemies will give you no peace and you will have no moment of respite from war, or threat of war. Does prayer help at this stage? Assuredly: and more so than any other weapon of spiritual warfare. It always attracts Divine help, and

God’s power repulses the enemies, so long as it is practised with zeal and with surrender to God’s will. Its place is at the very forefront of resistance to enemy attacks. This is how matters go. When, like a watchful sentry, attention sounds the alarm about the approaching enemy, and enemy arrows begin to be felt, that is, either a passionate thought or stirrings of passion appear within, the spirit, aflame with zeal for salvation, recognises it to be the evil doing of the enemy and, by straining its powers to the utmost, mercilessly repulses it from the heart, not letting it penetrate within. At the same moment, almost as one and the same inner action, it ascends to God in prayer, calling for His help. Help comes, enemies are dispersed, and the battle subsides.

Read the rest of this entry »


Quotes on Prayer – Pope Benedict: Prayer is the Breath of the Soul and of Life

April 27, 2012

A wonderful teaching on Prayer from Pope Benedict:

“If the lungs of prayer and the Word of God fail to nourish the breath of our spiritual life, we risk suffocating in the middle of a thousand daily cares: prayer is the breath of the soul and of life,” the Holy Father affirmed. “And there is another precious reminder that I would like to emphasize: in our relationship with God, in listening to His Word, in conversation with God, even when we find ourselves in the silence of a church or in our room, we are united in the Lord with so many brothers and sisters in faith, like an ensemble of instruments that, though retaining their individuality, offer to God one great symphony of intercession, of thanksgiving and of praise.”

From his April 25, 2012 Reflection on Prayer in the life of the Early Church. The full text is here.

h/t Kendall Harmon


MUST WATCH this video! Prayer ministry on the streets of London

April 25, 2012

Wow. Wow. Wow.

You’ve got to watch this short video from the FCA Conference – a Rwandan bishop shares about an opportunity he had to be part of a prayer ministry team on the streets of London.  Just awesome!

You can watch it here.

 


A Practical Guide for Lenten Self-Examination

March 22, 2012

A great resource from the collection of articles in the Lenten Guide published by  St. Paul’s Anglican Baton Rouge.  The following article is by the Rev. Dr. S. Randall Toms, St. Paul’s rector.

Here’s an excerpt which addresses the purpose of self-examination and a few crucial hints for how to keep self-examination from becoming self-condemnation:

The purpose of this self-examination is not that we might merely feel guilty about our sins.  Rather, the purpose of this self-examination is to break our hearts and humble us so that we might seek forgiveness from our Savior, Jesus Christ.  Also, this self-examination will help to convince us of our need for the power of the Holy Spirit to enable us wrestle, fight, overcome, and forsake these sins. After examining yourself, do not allow the knowledge of your sinfulness to cause you to despair. Rather, use this knowledge to drive you to Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.  After you have thoroughly examined yourself, ask God to work in your heart, by the power of the Holy Spirit, a true sorrow and hatred for all your sins so that you might forsake them and strive against them all your life.  Realize that if you truly repent and turn to Christ, he will forgive you all your trespasses.  After examining yourself, it would be a good idea to pray the General Confession:

ALMIGHTY and most merciful Father; We have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep. We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. We have offended against thy holy laws. We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; And we have done those things which we ought not to have done; And there is no health in us. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders. Spare thou those, O God, who confess their faults. Restore thou those who are penitent; According to thy promises declared unto mankind in Christ Jesus our Lord. And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake; That we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life, To the glory of thy holy Name. Amen.

I HIGHLY recommend reading the full article here.


Scotty Smith – Christ is our Prayer Warrior

March 15, 2012

Pastor Scotty Smith’s March 14 prayer at his blog Heavenward was focused on prayer itself, and his struggles to rightly understand James 5:16

The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.James 5:16

His insight on our need to trust in Christ as the righteous man and as our “prayer warrier” is extremely striking.  I’ve been falling into the same trap he describes of focusing on my own righteousness and thinking I somehow need to be more holy before I can pray effectively in a way that will please God.

***

here’s an excerpt:

First of all, I used to assume that the only “powerful and effective” prayer was one to which you responded with a rousing “Yes!”; and secondly, I thought the health of my prayer life was directly related to my maturity as a Christian. What a crippling Christ-less thought.

I thought the more righteous I was, the more inclined you’d be to answer my prayers affirmatively; and if I wasn’t getting my prayers answered, it was probably because of un-confessed sin in my life or because your were trying to teach me some lesson. What a horrible misunderstanding of prayer and a gospel-less approach to discipleship. No wonder it was easier for me to talk about you than to commune with you.

Thankfully, the gospel has been deconstructing and rebuilding my prayer life. Jesus, I now understand that you are the “righteous man” whose prayers are powerful and effective. You are our great prayer warrior—ever living to pray for us, and ever so graciously purifying our prayers as they rise to heaven. We don’t have any righteousness except the righteousness which we’ve freely received in you.

Jesus, because our lives are now hidden in you, because of our unbreakable union with you, because our permanent address is “in Christ,” we’ve been set free to pray with palms-up boldness.

The full prayer is here.  Read it and reflect on it.  I think it is a powerful truth that those of us called to a prayer ministry need to often call to mind.


Christian mysticism–Fr. Dale Matson

January 29, 2012

On his blog Soundings, Dale Matson reflects on mysticism:

Actually it is in Christ that we learn who we truly are. In Him our personality is not annihilated; in Him our personality is brought to fruition. The ultimate aim of the Christian mystic is union with Christ.


The Daily Office as a Means of Grace

October 17, 2011

I (Karen) don’t get time to do much blog reading these days, but every now and again I’ll skim through the “Around the Web” section at Stand Firm.

One blog listed there, Creedal Christian, has now twice recently caught my eye with EXCELLENT posts on the Daily Office.

The first post on Sept. 7th that I noted was: Bringing Each Day Captive to Christ Through the Daily Office .

an excerpt:

Open the Book of Common Prayer to its first rites. There you will find a demand and promise of remarkable ambition: the unending cycle of daily prayer. The features of this daily prayer epitomize the spiritual drama of the Christian life, both in goal and in focus, for the ambition to mark each day grows out of a faith in Jesus Christ as the Alpha and Omega. We are to dwell in him, and to do so each day must brought captive to Christ.

We should not imagine that this ambition is optional or peripheral to the Christian life. Daily communal prayer, or what the Anglican tradition (following the lead of the larger Western tradition) calls the Daily Office, serves as the engine of intimacy. …

An opening sentence for Morning Prayer expresses the need for daily prayer: “Watch, for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning, lest he come suddenly and find you asleep” (Mark 13:35-36). We are warned, rightly, against our tendency to sleep-walk through the life of faith. Prayer morning and evening responds to the exhortations found in the book of Isaiah: “Awake, awake, put on your strength, O Zion! Put on your beautiful garments” (52:1). The Daily Office stands as the primary means by which the church might make us wakeful and watchful.

 

Newly posted is the entry The Daily Office as a Means of Grace

An excerpt:

Reading the Bible in accordance with the lectionary and in the context of the liturgies of Morning and Evening Prayer is a disciplined yet powerful way to encounter the living Christ in our daily lives. And, as The Rector’s Corner notes, the canticles – the songs of praise read or sung in thankful response to the scripture readings – help to facilitate that encounter:

The canticles … provide a response to the lesson just read. They remind us the scriptures are not “data” to be consumed but encounters with God, moments of transformation to be pondered and integrated into our full being.

The Latin for “office” is officium meaning “service” or “duty.” And so the Daily Office is one’s Daily Service or Daily Duty. The ordination vows do not explicitly require clergy in the Episcopal Church to read the Daily Office, but it is one of the most reliable and deeply Anglican ways to fulfill the promise to “persevere in prayer.”

 

Please go read both pieces in full.  I pray today that the Lord would help me, and each one reading this blog, to allow the Lord to use the Daily Office as “an engine” of ever increased intimacy with Him, helping us to be alert to His voice and attuned to His heart.

-Karen


Pope Benedict: “being attentive to the Lord’s goodness” – a catechisis on prayer from Psalm 126

October 14, 2011

Many thanks to Kendall Harmon at TitusOneNine for posting this wonderful piece from Pope Benedict about being attentive in prayer to remember the Lord’s goodness and to behold the Lord’s beauty:

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 12, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI says we should more frequently recall how God has protected and guided us, noting that this exercise not only helps in “times of darkness” but also fills with joy.

The Pope said this today during the general audience in St. Peter’s Square. He took up his series of catechesis on prayer, turning to a psalm of joy, Psalm 126.

The Holy Father used the psalm to offer specific suggestions for prayer.

“Dear brothers and sisters,” he said, “in our prayer we should look more often at how, in the events of our own lives, the Lord has protected, guided and helped us, and we should praise him for all he has done and does for us. We should be more attentive to the good things the Lord gives to us.”

The Pontiff noted how “we are always attentive to problems and to difficulties,” but there is almost an unwillingness “to perceive that there are beautiful things that come from the Lord.”

Attention to the good, “which becomes gratitude,” he said, “is very important for us; it creates in us a memory for the good and it helps us also in times of darkness.”

“God accomplishes great things, and whoever experiences this — attentive to the Lord’s goodness with an attentiveness of heart — is filled with joy,” the Pontiff affirmed.

Please read it all!


Bringing to remembrance

November 24, 2010

John 14:26 (New International Version)
But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

Though it is self-evident, it bears saying–Biblical literacy facilitates spiritual discernment. I first became aware of an obscure Bible verse two years ago in Rwanda, listening to genocide survivors give testimony. A woman recounted the death of her husband and son-in-law and then simply said, “Lamentations 5:11.”
On looking up the citation, I realized it was a code for rape.

Lamentations 5:11 (New International Version)
Women have been violated in Zion, and virgins in the towns of Judah.

Some time later, a friend, who has much favor from the Lord, said to me, “Jill, I wish you would pray that we could sell this piece of property.” The property was an old bus station in a town that had been a Civil War battlefield.
I said, “Have you said prayers of cleansing over the property?”
“No.”
“Perhaps God does not want the property to change hands until it has been spiritually cleansed. Maybe the land was defiled by violence and spilled bood.”
Later that day, the Holy Spirit brought “Lamentations 5:11″ to my mind. I shot off an e-mail and said that we would probably never know, but it wouldn’t hurt to include a prayer of cleansing for rape, in case any had taken place on the land.
I subsequently found out that the manager of the bus station had lured girls into the basement and then bragged about his sexual conquests.

Another time, I heard of an acquaintance who was suffering much–bipolar, anorexia, anger. When I said a simple prayer for her, the Holy Spirit brought “Lamentations 5:11″ to mind, and I realized it was the root of her problems. This was later confirmed.

God speaks to us through many ways, but Holy Scripture remains the single most accessible language. If we have the biblical literacy of a child, we will have the discernment of a child. How can the Holy Spirit bring to remembrance a specific scripture if it is not in our memory? Biblical literacy facilitates spiritual discernment.


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