Excellent article on Prayer & Fasting (Justin Taylor / John Piper)

July 15, 2015

I tweeted about this earlier today, but think this is a really important article, deserving of a blog post.   In the wake of the brutally horrifying video exposé of Planned Parenthood’s butchery of babies to sell their body parts, Justin Taylor at the Gospel Coalition has posted a great call to prayer & fasting, reminding us of the role of spiritual warfare in the face of such evil.  There are battles in our culture that we cannot win by logical argument or legislative effort.  The battle against the evil of abortion may well be one of them.

His article largely draws upon writings from John Piper’s great (must read!) book A Hunger for God.

 

“Fasting,” Piper writes, “comes in alongside prayer with all its hunger for God and says,

We are not able in ourselves to win this battle.

We are not able to change hearts or minds.

We are not able to change worldviews and transform culture and save 1.6 million children.

We are not able to reform the judiciary or embolden the legislature or mobilize the slumbering population.

We are not able to heal the endless wounds of godless ideologies and their bloody deeds.

But, O God, you are able!

And we turn from reliance on ourselves to you.

And we cry out to you and plead that for the sake of your name, and for the sake of your glory, and for the advancement of your saving purpose in the world, and for the demonstration of your wisdom and your power and your authority over all things, and for the sway of your Truth and the relief of the poor and the helpless, act, O God.  […]

I appeal to you to seek the Lord with me concerning the place of fasting and prayer in breaking through the darkened mind that engulfs the modern world, in regard to abortion and a hundred other ills.

This is not a call for a collective tantrum that screams at the bad people, “Give me back my country.”

It is a call to aliens and exiles in the earth, whose citizenship is in heaven and who await the appearance of their King, to “do business” until he comes (Luke 19:13).

And the great business of the Christian is to “do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31), and to pray that God’s name be hallowed and his kingdom come and his will be done in the earth (Matthew 6:9-10). And to yearn and work and pray and fast not only for the final revelation of the Son of Man, but in the meantime, for the demonstration of his Spirit and power in the reaching of every people, and the rescuing of the perishing, and the purifying of the church, and the putting right of as many wrongs as God will grant.

I join Piper in commending this practice to you. What looks foolish to the world (forgoing food to pray for the protection of the unborn) may look utterly foolish to the world, but it will be pleasing to the God who sees and rewards in secret.

Please read it all, and please pray in the face of the present darkness in our culture and world.

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Resources for Bible reading in 2015

January 1, 2015

 

If reading more Scripture is one of your resolutions for 2015, here are some resources you might find helpful:

BibleinOneYear.org – a free Bible reading app, with commentary from Nicky Gumbel (Vicar of Holy Trinity Bromptom Church in London and pioneer of Alpha). You can also read this online each day, or sign up for the devotional by email.  Their devotional today is focused on New Year’s Resolutions – I love the resolution: Resolove to Delight in the Bible in 2015.  Amen!

ESV BibleThrough the Bible in a year reading plan, or check out one of their other Bible reading plans.  Chronological, Daily Office Lectionary (Book of Common Prayer), M’Cheyne one year plan

Bible Gateway – has many good reading plans – and you can choose what version you read.  You can also have daily devotions sent to you by email.


Daily Scripture Reading Table for Advent 2014 (Year 1)

November 7, 2014

It’s such a simple resource, but so helpful in terms of its clear layout, and the fact that it can be printed out on one page and folded in your Bible…. Here’s once again is the CRI Annual table of Advent Scripture readings according to the Daily Office lectionary of the Book of Common Prayer:   Advent Scripture Readings 2014 (year 1 reading cycle)

This is always one of the most popular Advent resources we post each year!

Advent this year is from Sunday November 30 – Monday December 24.

Here’s an example of what the table looks like – the readings for Advent Week 1:

Date Psalm OT Epistle Gospel

Sun
Nov 30

am: 146, 147
pm: 111, 112, 113
Isa 1:1-9 2 Pet 3:1-10 Matt 25:1-13
Mon
Dec 1
am: 1, 2, 3
pm: 4, 7
Isa 1:10-20 1 Thes 1:1-10 Luke 20:1-8
Tues
Dec 2
am: 5, 6
pm: 10, 11
Isa 1:21-31 1 Thes 2:1-12 Luke 20:9-18
Wed
Dec 3
am: 119:1-24
pm: 12, 13, 14
Isa 2:1-11 1 Thes 13-20 Luke 20:19-26
Thur
Dec 4
am:  18:1-20
pm: 18:21-50
Isa 2:12-22 1 Thes 3:1-13 Luke 20:27-40
Fri
Dec 5
am: 16, 17
pm: 22
Isa 3:8-15 1 Thes 4:1-12 Luke 20:41-21:4
Sat
Dec 6
am: 20, 21
pm: 110,116,117
Isa 4:2-6 1 Thes 4:13-18 Luke 21:5-19

Once again, here’s the link to the full table.

There are of course MANY other possible Advent Scripture reading plans.   I may try to link to several others over the weekend.

 


Two ebook bargains on praying Scripture for children and teens

October 19, 2014

Tonight I discovered a sale on two books (Kindle eBook versions), on prayer that look very promising.

Praying the Scriptures for Your Children by Jodie BerndtPraying the Scriptures for Your Teenagers: Discover How to Pray God's Purpose for Their Lives by Jodie Berndt

links here:

Praying the Scriptures for Your Children

Praying the Scriptures for Your Teenagers

Both books are currently on sale for $2.99 each.   I’ve not read either myself, but the author participates in a ministry called MomsinPrayer that I’ve been discovering since we’ve been on Twitter.  I’ve been impressed by these women and their hearts for prayer and their creative ways of continuing to fan into flame a commitment to pray for children and families.

We here at Lent & Beyond are BIG fans of praying the Scriptures!

 

 


Meditative Prayer for the Weary and Burdened

October 14, 2014

Being on Twitter has allowed me to discover some new blogs with good prayer resources and helpful reflections for spiritual encouragement.  One such discovery is the blog Knoxpriest by Anglican priest Jack King, in Knoxville, TN.

He’s posted an excellent reflection / prayer resource:  Meditative Prayer for the Weary and Burdened

Here’s an excerpt:

Some of the most comforting and beloved words that Jesus ever spoke in the Gospels are found in Matthew 11.28-30.

Jesus said:

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

One of the reasons these verses speak comfort to the heart is the invitation that Jesus extends to us. Christ calls us to accept this invitation in exchange for the peace and rest he gives.

I believe the best way to read the Bible is to pray the Scriptures. These well-loved words of Jesus can become a form of meditative prayer for us, a way of presenting our troubles to Christ as we learn the Lord’s way of bearing burdens.

Here’s a suggested rhythm for meditative prayer adapted from Matthew 11.28-30.

1. Place all circumstances and situations that burden you before the Lord

The first step is actually accepting the invitation to approach Christ with honesty about our heaviness of heart. Just as Hannah ‘poured out her heart’ before the Lord when she was burdened about having a child (1 Sam. 1.15), so we are invited to pour out our hearts before the Lord. A sense of rest may come instantaneously, it may not. Receive Christ’s promise regardless: ‘I will give you rest.’ Receive that promise in faith, whether or not you have accompanying emotions or feelings of peace. The peace of Christ is present even when we don’t feel it.

Read the whole entry!


“Hold Tight to God” a timely prayer for the Ebola crisis #praytoendEbola

October 1, 2014

Christine Sine at Godspace blog has recently begun posting a series of original prayers and contemplative exercises each Monday.  A few weeks ago, she posted a beautiful prayer Hold Tight to God.  I happened across it again yesterday, and it struck me that it is a very timely prayer for our brothers and sisters in West Africa in the face of the Ebola Crisis.

As we join in prayer with the #PraytoendEbola campaign this week, I hope this prayer will be useful to many.  Thanks so much to Christine for giving me permission to share it here, image and all.

Hold Tight to God

Please check out Godspace each Monday for a new prayer and contemplative exercise.


Excellent reflection on Lent and Fasting

April 15, 2014

Today’s Lenten devotional at the Trinity School for Ministry, by MDiv student Rebecca Osborn is really excellent.  I know all too well how easy it is to seek some distraction or comfort to keep me from examining and confronting my sin and the state of my heart…  May the Lord help us all in these remaining days of Holy Week to come to Him and bare our hearts and let Him burn away all the dross that is dulling His life, His righteousness, His glory within us.

God’s grace through judgment is a major theme in the Old Testament. We are used to the idea of grace by gentler means, but we must not miss that God’s grace often takes the form of hardship to get the attention of his stubborn children. In Lent, we enter that hardship voluntarily, so that our hidden sins might be exposed and judged, and our new humanity in Christ might be a little more freed.

I don’t know about you, but I’m terrible at fasting. Food, in addition to being the good sustenance that keeps us alive, is also a comfort to hide in. When I am comforted in my physical body, it is easy to ignore an uneasy spirit. Whether I am uneasy because of pain or guilt or isolation, it is easy to escape those unpleasant feelings in a snack or other compulsion. Take away that habit and the emotion is exposed. It is in such a state that I can say, with the dejected voice of Jerusalem in Lamentations 1:19-20a:

“I called to my lovers, but they deceived me; my priests and elders perished in the city, while they sought food to revive their strength. Look, O Lord, for I am in distress; my stomach churns; my heart is wrung within me, for I have been very rebellious.”

Lamentations 1:17-21 is the distress call of Jerusalem in judgment. She has hit rock bottom. Many times in our Christian walk, we stand before the cross admitting our weakness. The path to wholeness in Christ is long. While we must be willing, our will alone is not enough to change us.

But unlike the woman Jerusalem, we are not without comfort (v. 17). We know that the worst of the suffering has fallen on the servant, of whom Isaiah tells us, “A bruised reed he shall not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice” (Isaiah 42:3). Through the fasting of Lent, we take our faintly burning wick to Christ, trusting him to bring forth justice in the fire of union with himself.  

(emphasis added)


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