Tag Archives: Prayer

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Struck Down, Deployed

‘We are struck down but not destroyed, always carrying around in the body the death of Jesus that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.’
(2Cor 4: 9b, 10)

As our fast continues, I am especially grateful for the parents of strugglers who are becoming prayer warriors. I believe that the mightiest members of God’s healing army today are mothers and fathers whose children have ‘come out’ as LGBT+. Struck down by unintentional acts of domestic violence, these parents—facedown–discover Jesus for themselves.

Another’s wound and rebellion wakes them up. At last. The God of their childhood becomes Savior and Lord for them now. He gives them a share in His heart for the broken in need of His body. They will change the face of the Church.

I met Teri at an Encourage meeting. She was distraught and nearly hopeless about her daughter who claimed to be transitioning into a ‘son.’ At that point, her goal was to amass info about ‘transgender’ realities. She learned in the next few months that gaining knowledge was her way of controlling the chaos at hand.

When I saw her next at our ‘Open to Life’ seminar, she was remarkably composed. She told me that though she is happy to learn more, she knows what God wants. ‘He wants me. This is more about my conversion than anything else. I am learning how to trust Him as never before.’

Teri followed up that seminar with a small Lenten prayer group we hosted about chastity, what it means to become whole in our gender and sexuality. Several persons attended with apparent gender identity problems. Teri’s divides are not apparent; she looks like the well-heeled and adjusted head of women’s ministry. Yet she was the first to lead out with confession about her issues as a woman and why those issues probably had made life harder for her daughter. What a woman. She goes to the Cross for her own brokenness first. She prays for her daughter out of the mercy she receives from Jesus.

Now I have the privilege of walking with Teri through a Living Waters group. I arrived at my parish early to set up one night and noticed a woman kneeling at the altar beneath the Cross. She was radiant, fragrant with holiness and looked a bit like Mary Mother of God as she united her heart with Jesus. I failed to realize it was Teri until later. No matter; even from a distance, I could discern that this intercessor was in sync with her Savior and destined to move mountains. A sword may have pierced her heart (LK 2:35), but with that same sword, surrendered to Jesus, she will thwart the enemy’s schemes. Thank God for His marvelous plan!

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False Peace, True Intimacy

As we proceed on our 40 days of prayer/fasting for loved ones, we discover a marvelous truth: prayer leads to intimacy with God. Simply being in His presence revives the soul. The God who gave all to gain us grants us a share in His generosity. Our stingy prayers swell with mercy for persons most in need of it. Prayerful intimacy makes us fruitful once more.

The peace of His Presence contrasts with the holy unrest we feel when we entertain false intimacy. That includes turning back to distorted images of self and others in order to pleasure ourselves. Illicit sensuality mimics the Spirit of God. In the moment, we feel sensationally connected to what appears divine.

We are all too aware of persons who have left faith and family for false intimacy. We have all heard the stories: ‘No-one ever loved me the way (s)he does’; ‘how could something that feels so right be wrong?’ etc. That is especially true of persons exercising new freedom to be ‘out and proud’ with same-sex partners. Such ones have come under a false peace born of the devil himself. Yes, the devil. The author of lies smokes out vulnerable ones whom he can deceive into forsaking all for intimacy that produces only spiritual barrenness and impotency.

Of this false peace St. Teresa of Avila writes: ‘When such persons of the world remain quiet, while going about in serious sin, and so tranquil about their vices, for their consciences don’t feel remorseful about anything, their peace is a sign that they and the devil are friends. While they live, the devil does not wage war against them.’

We must pray that deceived ones will hunger once more for His real Presence. We can pray that Christians will love them generously in ways that surpass fickle lovers. We can pray for the Holy Spirit to ‘paint the dragon red’ and so reveal to beloved captives the dark spirits vying for their souls.

And we who are vulnerable to false intimacy must rely wholly on the merciful, fearsome God who upholds us in true peace as we cling to Him and refuse the seduction of the world. Christians are safe only to the degree that we prayerfully make themselves homes for Him. In all humility, we recognize that ‘the devil could begin to offer us another peace in small things, so while we live, we must fear the Lord.’ (St. Teresa of Avila)

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Downward Ascent 5: Heart of God

‘Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.’ (Matt. 5:7)

Mercy is the heart of God. Fittingly, mercy is the core theme of the Beatitudes: the poor, the mournful, the meek and hungry welcome mercy like rain on broken dry ground. Jesus then exhorts such receivers to extend that unfailing love to those who fail them.

No easy thing. To look with pity on the poor ‘out there’ and to give something of God’s generosity is one thing; to release captives who have captivated you with merciless acts is quite another. Several past Lenten seasons have been defined by facing some pretty hard hits I had taken from loved ones, especially family members and close ministry colleagues. Those nearest to us do the greatest damage, arouse the strongest self-justifications, and require the most mercy in order for all to heal.

Lent exposes the merciless heart of the ‘good guys.’ It challenges our good habits and fairly intact virtues. Forty days before the Crucified helps us to see how wounded we are and in turn, how hard our hearts have become toward those who betrayed us.

My hatred for a loved one’s addiction devolved into hating him and refusing to see him as an object of mercy. To release him seemed unwise, a set up for another round of secrets and lies. Yet setting boundaries and obeying this Beatitude are not mutually exclusive. It may be unwise to share your funds or bed or even close proximity to a divided soul. Extending mercy is a divine mandate.

How can I not forgive another and yet claim to be named by the God who forgave me over and over for gross acts of sexual immorality with no guarantee that this confession would be the last? To bear the name of our God means that we act as He does—mercifully. Jesus said it simply, and best. ‘Be merciful as Your Father is merciful.’ (LK 6:36)

This Lent take time to reflect on how merciful He has been to you. Consider your failures and how both a merciful God and His children forgave you. Consider also those whom you have written off, judged as unworthy of your mercy. Ask yourself: why is your mercy different from His? Spend time before the Crucified and ask for the mercy to close the gap. Be merciful. Be like your Father.

‘Anyone who lives beneath the Cross of Christ and who has discerned in his own heart the wickedness of all men, including himself, will find there is no sin that can ever be alien to him.’ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

PRAYER for Monday, March 24th: ‘Father, remind me of the specific ways You have been merciful to me.’

PRAYER for Tuesday, March 25th: Meditate on these words of St. Faustina. ‘The knowledge of my own misery allows me to know the immensity of Your mercy.’
Is that true for you? How has the misery of your own sin become the broken ground for His immense mercy? ‘Father, remind me of how Your mercy alone restored me from sin’s misery.’

PRAYER for Wednesday, March 26th: ‘Father, show me the misery that other persons’ sins has visited upon me. Why do I struggle to face these sins? Brood over my wounded heart and show me the immensity of Your mercy there.’

PRAYER for Thursday, March 27th: ‘Father, as I am Your child, made in Your image and likeness, I choose to release this one for forcing me into sin’s misery. You have been merciful to me; I extend that mercy to this one.‘

PRAYER for Friday, March 28th: ‘Father, show me the wise boundaries that will enable me to love this person without being entrapped in the snare of his/her sin. May I see this as both a loving act toward myself and a further help for him/her in making a thorough repentance.’

PRAYER for Saturday, March 29th: ‘Father, help me to see all persons as You do, sons and daughters made in Your image. Help me to see beyond my own concerns to behold a harassed people and in need of You, our merciful Father.’

PRAYER for Sunday, March 30th: ‘Father, make this church a home for sinners. May You the Merciful Shepherd use all of us as little shepherds to bring sinners home to You. Draw them with Your mercy God, mercy alone. Make me an arm of Your wooing love. In particular, I cry out for these wayward ones: ___________ ’

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Downward Ascent 3: Almighty Meekness

‘Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.’ (Matt. 5:5)

Weeping over one’s poverty is a gift. The contrite heart cries. Consequences of sin in our own lives and in persons we love reduce us to grief. Yet for that grief to become good, raised from the ‘worldly sorrow that brings forth death’ (2 Cor 7:10), we must surrender to Jesus. He bears our affliction and transports us to His Kingdom. There, divine comfort coaxes us to exchange rags for riches. The King defines us now.

The result is meekness. When one finally lets go of how (s)he will manage the unbearable weight of sin (our own, another’s, the world’s!), God becomes who He is and we become who we are. The meek know the difference: humans are small subjects of a great Kingdom. Our littleness frees us ‘to entrust ourselves to Him who judges justly’ (1 Pet. 2:23). We can drop our stones of judgment and rest in the One who makes all things new, beginning with ourselves.

Any proper self-assessment I possess, any real quality of meekness, has resulted from a type of ‘reduction.’ I can go a long way on my own passion. It has taken bitter disappointments to level and reduce me to the Meek One. Dying again, submitting my hard husk to Him, has slowed and sweetened my heart. God claims the trauma for Kingdom purposes and releases seeds from it that later bear fruit.

Hinting at this fruit, a colleague once remarked: ‘I like you better when you’re beaten up.’ What he meant was: ‘I like you better when you are reduced to Jesus.’ He likes meekness, those who live in apparent reliance upon the Almighty One.

I witnessed vividly this meekness during a healing prayer time. Frustrated by a blind-spot in the one receiving prayer, my first inclination was to confront the block directly. Led by the Spirit, my co-laborer simply suggested to the receiver: ‘Why don’t you pray and ask the Father about that?’ In meekness, my colleague gave God room to meet this one. The Almighty acted, without a word from me.

Meekness gives Jesus room to be God in our lives and in the lives of those we love. The meek pray more and talk less; they trust the King.

Jesus trust in His Father made Him lowly and meek. The Son relied upon Father’s strong shoulders and tender heart. Similarly, Jesus invites us in our weariness and clutter to unburden ourselves. How? He is meek and lowly (Matt. 11: 28-30) yet Almighty. He stretches out His arms and provides a safe place for us to be small and to rest. That is meekness, the ground on which we the created commune with the Creator and so become mighty in His image.

Fitting: we who are becoming meek like Him shall inherit His earth.

‘Jesus gave me to know the depth of His meekness and humility and to understand that He clearly demanded the same of me.’ St. Faustina

Prayer for Monday, March 17th: ‘Father, free us from the ‘worldly sorrow that brings forth death.’ We do not want to be preoccupied with morbid ideas of self and others. Turn our poverty and our grief towards You. Free us to be small objects of Almighty Love. Elevate our view with Your eyes; envelope us with Your arms of love.’

Prayer for Tuesday, March 18th: ‘Father, forgive us for bearing burdens alone. We confess the temptation to usurp Your divine shoulders and perfect judgment. Show us our size. We give to you the unfinished business in our lives, including the mess we see others making of their lives. We entrust them to You. Reduce us to almighty meekness.’

Prayer for Wednesday, March 19th: ‘Father, we ask for closer communion with You in this Lenten time. In this winter of sin, prepare us for spring by showing us the clutter of our hearts. We welcome Your invitation; we return to You. May we regain strength through solitude and trust. Teach us to pray more and talk less. Make us meek as You are meek.’

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friend john by andrew comiskey untrained eye

Friend John

How do you love someone whose self has become a defense? My friend John found it easier to present outrageous escapades than the longings of his heart. At times we wondered: are gay sex and drugs really that important to him? We needed mercy to remind ourselves that the real John was much more than both.

I first met John 35 years ago, before AIDS even had a name. He then lived in West Hollywood from which he bounced to San Francisco then back, a ricochet driven by failed attempts at rehab and happiness. Read more »

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