Tag Archives: Prayer

Please pray for the Vineyard family on Bohol island

The recent earthquake in central Philippines (magnitude 7.2) seriously damaged two Vineyard church buildings on Bohol (in the towns of Inabangga and and Sikatuna). Another church building sustained a large crack (in the town of Dimiao). Many of Vineyard church members in Inabangga and Buenavista are camping out in the town square or “plaza” until it is safe to return to their houses and begin repairs. Much of Bohol island does not have electricity and because of damaged roads and bridges travel by land is not easy from one town to another.

Also, the Arms of Love Children’s Home just outside Tagbilaran Bohol has sustained some damage. Because of this the children have had to vacate the Home until the damage can be properly assessed.

Please pray for our Vineyard family as well as all the people and communities that have been significantly affected by the recent earthquake.


Listening and Obeying In A Fast Food Joint

two feetI almost missed it.

It was very subtle and gentle.

But it was there. A quiet voice telling me to ask this lady if I could pray for her.

The problem was that I was at a fast food restaurant with my son enjoying an ice cream cone and watching him play. And there were other people around. Oh, and did I mention that it was at a fast food restaurant and the gal the Lord was telling me to pray for was an employee? Yeah, all kinds of barriers.

Yet the voice remained even after the gall walked away.

That is when I remembered what God had told me last week while at the Vineyard National Conference. Twice that week – once during a worship set and once during a ministry time with Todd White and Robby Dawkins– God had told me to get back into the streets.

Years ago I had enjoyed going to counter-culture environmental and Earth day fairs and praying for folks on the side of the street. It was a blast setting up a booth offering information on how to take care of God’s creation next to nudist colonies, fortune tellers and the like. The stories that came out of those events are a testimonies to the workings of the Holy Spirit.

Sadly as the years went by I slowly got out of the habit of doing that… partly because I became engaged in pastoring a church and raising a family (both of which take time, a precious commodity), and partly – or perhaps ‘mostly’ – because I got nervous and lazy. Come on, let’s face it – praying with folks outside the church walls is scary and counter-culture. Praying for folks, our minds say, is done on Sunday mornings or, perhaps, during the weekly Bible studies and prayer meetings. You don’t do that kind of stuff at a fast food restaurant!

The gentle nudging stayed there. Only conviction increased at each passing second.

How could I, a pastor, ask folks in the church to pray for folks on the streets (which I have) if I was unwilling to do so. Hypocrite.

In the end I really only had one choice: to go find this gal and pray for her.

So I did.

And she cried.

Tears of joy and sorrow for she had a very rough day and just needed someone to love her – someone to tell her that she mattered. The details of her story don’t belong on this blog, it is enough to know that I prayed a blessing over her and her kids (she was a single mother).

The main take away was that was that God taught me a lesson.

A lesson to listen and obey. To listen while not obeying is just as bad as acting without listening. We, the follower of Jesus, need to listen to the Father and obey the promptings of the Spirit.  We have to move from being scared and nervous, move from being too busy, and start, well, doing what Jesus did.

Thoughts On Praying “Without Ceasing”

ice treeIf you were to ask me what ‘prayer’ is, I would most likely tell you that it is a conversation with Jesus – a conversation that requires both listening and speaking. However this definition of prayer is beginning to crack and fall apart…..

St. Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 that we are to “rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

To “pray without ceasing”…. Obviously St. Paul is not telling us to go around talking all the time, or even listening for that matter (you can listen while asleep for one thing!).

So what is St. Paul talking about?

In the past, I’ve heard folks say that St Paul is telling us to pray in tongues – something that can be done simultaneous with other activities as when “my spirit prays…my mind is unfruitful” (I Corinthians 14:14). And to a certain extent I think this is correct….

Yet I’m thinking that St. Paul’s comment in 1 Thessalonians is also pointing forward to something more…

Brother Lawrence, a humble 1600’s monk, once wrote that:

“The time of business 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 posses God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees as the blessed sacrament.”

This is closer to what I think St. Paul is talking about…being aware of the Presence of God no matter where you are or what you are doing.

Somewhere along the line in the Vineyards circles I frequent, I heard it said that we are a “people of the Presence.” We don’t seek or run after signs and wonders, miracles, or even salvations and mercy ministries. We simply run after the Presence of God, running after Him no matter where He goes.

The people of the Presence; a people so love struck with Jesus that every breath inhales and exhales Him.

Pat Loughery, a fellow Vineyardite and lover of the ancient Celtic church, put it this way a few months ago:  

“God is present with me at all times and in a broad variety of ways, many of which I do not yet recognize.  God is present to me as I speak and attempt to listen, and as I pray from the Gospels and the Psalms, and as I gather with others in a time of celebration and worship.  And God is also present to me as I see the changing colors in the leaves of the trees along my commute to work, in the wisdom and humor I hear in my children, in the way my soul sings when I see a beautiful cloud or hear the beauty of a well-tuned engine.

“God is present with me when I recognize the transcendent in my everyday life.

“So I intentionally, mindfully pursue God in that everyday life.  I want to be aware of the beauty of the life that I live, whether that beauty comes from a Psalm or a child’s smile or reading a well-crafted phrase or seeing a trout on the rise.  When I’m aware of those transcendent moments, I see the veil between the mundane and the Holy being pierced beyond repair.

“If those moments of mindfulness simply turn me toward being thankful for the written word or a lovely smile or a beautiful fish, I’ve missed the ultimate point.  Instead, they should turn me toward their Creator who speaks abundantly and wittily and profoundly in these moments.

“If seeking and perceiving Presence is the point of prayer, then the activities of prayer can be profound or mundane.  Cooking can be prayer; tuning a bicycle can be prayer; attending a concert can be prayer; showering and breathing can be prayer.  If I recognize and sense and pursue God in these activities, they can be prayer-full.

“Prayer has become for me a challenge to open my spirit and my eyes to recognize the Holy in all that I see and experience.  Not all that I experience is Holy, but the Trinitarian God has so drenched this life in the colors of Presence that it is nearly impossible to miss that Presence.” (emphasis added)

Prayer of the Refugee by Rise Against

We had a place that we could call home,
And a life no one could touch…

We are the angry and the desperate,
The hungry, and the cold,
We are the ones who kept quiet,
And always did what we were told….

But we’ve been sweating while you slept so calm,
In the safety of your home….

Prayer of the Refugee by Rise Against

Can you hear the cry? The emotions? The pain in these lyrics?  

I could!!!![@more@]

And as I listened, my spirit recalled the words spoken long ago:

Why, O LORD, do you stand far off?
       Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak,
       who are caught in the schemes he devises.
He lies in wait near the villages;
       from ambush he murders the innocent,
       watching in secret for his victims.
 He lies in wait like a lion in cover;
       he lies in wait to catch the helpless;
       he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net.
 His victims are crushed, they collapse;
       they fall under his strength.

-Psalms 10:1-2,8-10,12

Rise Against end their song with proclamation that they will no longer stand idlly by, but they will stand up and fight:

So open your eyes child…

Keep quiet no longer,
We’ll sing through the day,
Of the lives that we’ve lost,
And the lives we’ve reclaimed.

Don’t hold me up now,
I can stand my own ground,
I don’t need your help now,
You will let me down, down, down!

In a similar vein, Psalms 10 ends with a proclamation – the difference is that the Psalmist proclaims that God is King:

The LORD is King for ever and ever;
       the nations will perish from his land.
You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted;
       you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,
defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
       in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more.

Let the Church rise up and proclaim the reign and rule of the Lord Almighty!!

May we no longer sit on the sidelines of the greatest battle of all times!!