Category: Prayer

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Ache of God

Praying 40 days for repentance over sexual sin would be a vain task unless we encountered His ache of love for us.

Prayer unites us with His ache. Beneath His cross, we witness silently His naked broken body. Like rain from heaven, blood and water flow into our shameful nakedness and unites us with the Love that seeks nothing other than our good. Sexual sinners like you and I concur tearfully with Pope Benedict: ‘Any talk of love must begin with the open side of Christ.’

He aches for us, for our good, hating sin (never us!) only because it destroys us. So He pours Himself out generously, and awaits the time when we might stop beneath His cross and satisfy our misdirected appetites on Love alone.

He aches for us! He wants communion with us! Have you ever felt the acute pain of betrayal when a mere creature violated his/her covenant with you? How much more does our Creator ache when we bypass Him for a mere human image of Himself?

Having suffered to secure us in Love, He wants to waste none of His sorrows. He aches for us to abide beneath the cross, to linger there. He wants to reorient us around His ache for us; He delights when we soak in the water that cleanses and refreshes us, the blood that becomes our new life. We fulfill His ache when we welcome His passion as the foundation of our lives.

40 days of focused prayer may not be enough to reorient us wholly around His ache. But it’s a good start. And when we with broken hearts kneel before the cross welcome the fruit of His broken heart for us, we learn to pray for others.

God gives us His ache for the lonely and the lost; we grieve with Him for those wasting themselves on mere images of God. God wants them, Father to child, Bridegroom to bride. Prayer changes us by orienting us around His ache: first for us, and through our prayers, for the people He made and longs to redeem.

‘How beautiful you are, my darling. Oh, how beautiful! Show me your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face lovely.’ (S of S 2:2, 14)

Please join us starting Friday, September 28th, for our 40 days of repentance. You can download the PDF of the entire 40-day devotional now at : pray.desertstream.org.

If you want us to email you the PDF, or to send you a paper copy of the devotional, email Ann at aarmstrong@desertstream.org.

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Ache of Humanity

We pray for forty days because we ache for love. And unless our ache finds its home in God, we will be vulnerable to false masters. If that is still true for us who love Jesus and His Church, how urgent the need to pray for those whose ache is aimed at false gods! I refer specifically to the sensual gods that captivate humanity and compel them to forsake God for passion with mere creatures.

Spiritual and sexual longing are similar in several ways: we experience both as an ache in a way that pervades the whole of our humanity. We cannot confine sexual longing to our genitals anymore than we can limit the ache for God to our ‘souls.’ Spirituality and sexuality motivate us into relationships, the former with God, the latter our fellows. These unions can result in new life, regeneration, and blessed creativity.

Or compulsive drives that persuade us to shuck the good for what feels good. Electrified by the body before us, we forget that we are the body, His body, and thus responsible to many other bodies in what we do with our own.

What we do with our sexual ache for communion testifies more about the God (gods) we serve than any other witness. Do our hearts and bodies manifest one God who unites us in love, joy, and peace? Or do we in agitation bear witness of serving myriad images that fire us up and fracture our capacity to love others?

This is where spirituality—our ache for God—must precede our desire to redeem our sexuality, that ache for our fellow humanity. Surrendered to love Himself, we can begin to integrate the whole of our lives. However broken and misdirected our desires, we discover that the heart yielded to Jesus begins to become whole. We worship Him, the One, and grace is released that helps us take the next step in letting go of false attachments to the creature.

In that way, prayer is an exercise of desire. Through opening our lives to him, we are cultivating passion for God. Though we do not equate sexual passion for the spiritual, we must not dismiss the powerful imagery from scripture, and the experience of Christian mystics throughout centuries, that suggest holy one-spirit communion with God may just surpass bridal intimacy.

Let me give you a personal example. A while ago I was struggling with my sexual ‘ache’ in a way that I felt would be wrong to offer to Annette. I needed to go to Jesus. He revealed Himself to me as very human but clothed in glorious robes of righteousness. He enfolded me in His love and somehow both the ache and the impurity had a place to go. The latter was absorbed in His garments while my heart rested, secured in love and deeply nourished from the Source Himself.

‘Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth, for Your love is more delightful than wine…Take me away with You—let us hurry! Let the King take me into His chambers….I delight to sit in His shade, and His fruit is sweet to my taste. He brought me into His banqueting table, and His banner over me is love.’    (S of S 1: 2, 4; 2: 3, 4)

We begin our 40-days of prayer for deepening intimacy with God, and repenting over the sexual sins of our land, on September 28th. The entire prayer guide is now available as a PDF at:  pray.desertstreamministries.org

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Getting Low for the Lost

One day last January, God alerted me to the truth that an aggressive, cruel spirit, masking itself as an angel of light, had quickened its assault on humanity.

8am: a man to whom I had been sharing Christ stopped our conversation short by introducing me to his new male lover then politely refused any more ‘God-talk.’ Noon: some dear friends called me to in tears to tell us that their son had just ‘come out’ and that the conservative Christian college he attended was supporting his new ‘gay self’. 4pm: a Christian leader called me to ask for help for a devout father of 4 children whose wife had just abandoned the family for a female lover in CA.

6pm: I staggered home, literally dizzy, disoriented by the darkness tearing apart individuals and families.

I prayed and immediately a scene from an old Hitchcock film appeared. A murderer is fleeing the authorities in an amusement park; to escape them, he leaps on a crowded merry-go-round. He strikes down one pursuer who falls on the lever which determines the velocity of the ride. The carousel speeds up, to the delight of the kids then to their peril. Now spinning like a top, the merry-go-round casts off all restraint, sending parents and children in every direction.

One mechanic nearby knows how to slow the ride. To do so, he must get on his belly, and slither under the carousel until he reaches its center. There lies the brake and the only hope for stopping the carnage. He gets low, and saves many lives from the chaotic subterfuge at hand.

I believe that God is asking the same of us. Will we get low in this hour and cry out for godly restraint in our land? Will we cry out for mercy for our sins, for our loved ones, for our beloved, idolatrous nation? God responds to the heart humbled by its own sin, steeped in mercy. We face an irrational, growing deception that the ‘gay self’ is good and must satisfied at all costs. Only the cry for mercy can restrain such deception.

We get low for those who have been disoriented by secular misinterpretations of same-sex attraction. Hear the voice of one who was raised by two mothers.

Robert Oscar Lopez writes: ‘Growing up with gay parents was very difficult, and not because of prejudice from neighbors. People around us did not know what was going on in the house. To most outsiders, I was a well-raised, high functioning child. Inside however, I was confused. When your home is so drastically different form everyone around you, you grow up weird. I have no mental health disorders…I just grew up in a home so unusual that I was destined to exist as a social outcast.

My peers learned all the unwritten rules of decorum and body language in their homes…they learned both traditionally masculine and feminine social mechanisms…I had no male figure to follow, and few recognizable social cues to offer potential male or female friends, since I was neither confident nor sensitive to others. Thus I befriended people rarely and alienated people easily…Life is hard when you are strange.’ (‘Growing Up with Two Moms: The Untold Children’s View’, Public Discourse, August 6, 2012.)

For 40 days, beginning September 28th, we are going to get low and cry out for those like Robert Lopez who have been thrown off the carousel. For the sake of generations to come, we ask God to employ our repentance as merciful restraint to its velocity. For a full prayer guide to our 40-days of prayer, email aarmstrong@desertstream.org.

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