One way to pray is to make the Scriptures our own by putting them in the first person so that we see how they apply to us. Today let us do that with Psalm 91, the great Psalm of God's protection.
God, you are my refuge, my fortress, my God in whom I trust. You will save me from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. You will cover me with your feathers and under your wings I will find refuge. Your faithfulness will be my shield and rampart. I will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. Although a thousand may fall at my side, ten thousand at my right hand, it will not come near me. I will only observe with my eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.
I make the Most High my dwelling – the Lord, who is my refuge – and no harm will befall me, no disaster will come near my tent. He will command his angels concerning me to guard me in all my ways. They will lift me up in their hands so that I do not strike my foot against a stone. I will tread upon the lion and the cobra; I will trample the great lion and the serpent.
Because I love the Lord He will rescue me. He will protect me because I acknowledge his name. I will call upon him and he will answer me. He will be with me in trouble. He will deliver me and honor me. He will give me long life and salvation.
Last weekend I attended a conference titled "Women on the Front Lines." Two of the speakers, Patricia King and Clarice Fluitt, are not only pastors but professional motivational speakers. They combined preaching the Gospel with motivating the attendees to do something about it. This is ongoing evangelization at its finest.
Many of the people there, like me, are in what might be called "the second half of life." Of course, we don't really know how long we are going to live, so we don't know exactly when our second half starts, but we can assume that at 50 we are beginning that second half. Both women urged us not to slow down, not to retire, not to think that our work with and for God is finished just because we are over 50.
Patricia told us that at the age of 50 she had never written a book. Now she has written 35. She started her own publishing company and media enterprise after the age of 50. She is still creating, still dreaming, still going with God. She is enjoying her life, her children and her grandchildren. She plans to "die with her boots on" whenever God calls her home. But in the meantime she is actively pursuing the plans God has for her.
For Reflection: Have I taken on a retirement mentality? Have I decided that God is through with me? Or that I am finished with God?
Let us pray. God, I agree with your word, "I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). I declare that I am strong in you and in the strength of your might and in your love.
For John one of the marks of a true Christian is love. God is love. Jesus laid down his life out of love. We should love one another. And what is this love? It is more than a feeling; it is an action. "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth" (1 John 3:16-18).
The early disciples lived this out. We read in Acts 2:44 that "(A)ll the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need." Today we find it hard to fathom that this can or even should be done.
For Reflection: We who are fortunate may have no first-hand experience of poverty. We may only see pictures on TV of people who have nothing or who have lost everything. We may never have been through a hurricane, a tornado or even a job loss. Would we be willing to sell what we have in order to give to someone we don't know personally? Would we be willing to do it for a friend?
Let us pray. Lord Jesus, I've never sold anything to help someone else. I'm not sure I have that quality of love, that level of love. But I'm willing to learn.
We sin; we don't sin. We sin; we don't sin. It seems as though John goes back and forth on the issue. In 1 John 1:8 he says, "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us." In 1 John 3:6 he says, "No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him." What are we to do with these two verses?
One interpretation is that in chapter 3 John means that Christians don't persist in sin. They don't continue to commit the same sin with no thought of repentance, confession, or change. The author of Hebrews seems to share this opinion in 10:26 when he writes, "If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left."
When we are baptized, we receive grace to help keep us from sin. And God continues to give us this grace, this help along the path. If we use the grace we are given, and continue to ask for more help from the Holy Spirit, the habitual sins of our past should fall by the wayside. We continue to become more like Jesus every day.
For Reflection: Do I have a persistent sin in my life? Have I repented and confessed it? God's grace is sufficient for any situation.
Let us pray. Jesus, your grace is sufficient because you died for me. Your grace is sufficient because your mercies are new every morning. Your grace is sufficient because you are faithful and true.
"Who are you?" It's a common enough question, but what is our answer? Is our first answer our name, our position, our job? Most often, I think, we answer who we are in the world's eyes, not in God's eyes, even though we know that God's designation is more important than the world's. The apostle John very clearly states that we are children of God. That is our primary and most important description.
John does not expect that to be our only name though as is clear when he says, "(W)hat we will be has not yet been made known" (1 John 3:2). We are expected to grow in Christ to become more like him until the time when we see him face-to-face. After all, when we face him we don't want to be ashamed (1 John 2:28). We will want to have done something with what God gave us. Remember the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30. Everything we have comes from God and is to be returned to God in better shape or even multiplied.
So who are we? We are children of God, stewards, anointed ones, blessed, gifted, conquerors, ambassadors. The list goes on and on.
For Reflection: Who am I? How does God see me? What have I done with what God has given me?
Let us pray. "We know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror, then we shall see face to face, Now I know in part, then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known" (1 Corinthians 13: 9-10, 12).
Our dear friend John keeps challenging us in his first letter. Now he wants to talk to us about "the world". Again his words are strong. "Do not love the world or anything in the world. . . For everything in the world - the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does - comes not from the Father but from the world" (1 John 2:15-17).
We know that God created the world and declared that everything he created was good. So what is it about the world that we should not love? Cravings refers to satisfying our physical desires; lust is the desire for and accumulation of things; boasting is pride as if we accomplish anything on our own. These things that John warned against are still prevalent today and still just as hard to overcome today. Perhaps more so. Today we have a feast for the eyes through all kinds of social media. Temptations are everywhere. And we don't necessarily have to partake of the offerings in order to sin. We just have to crave, to lust. We can do those things without leaving our favorite chair at home. Boasting can be about what we have accomplished or about what our children or grandchildren have accomplished; e.g., graduated from Harvard, makes six figures, vacationed on the Riviera. We hear these types of boasts all the time. But how often do we hear, "My grandson is such a Godly man." Or "My daughter is a woman after God's heart."
For Reflection: Craving, lusting and boasting are ever-present temptations. Where is love for "the world" present in my life? Is there a way to eliminate or at least minimize whatever leads me into these sins?
Let us pray. "You are my King and my God, who decrees victories for Jacob. Through you we push back our enemies; through your name we trample our foes. I do not trust in my bow, my sword does not bring me victory; but you give us victory over our enemies, you put our adversaries to shame. In God we make our boast all day long, and we will praise your name forever" (Psalm 44:4-8).
I started this website and blog on May 1, 2012. I am a Catholic who has been in ministry for many years. I first developed what I would call a close relationship with Jesus in the early 1970s. Ever since then I have been praying with people for healing and other needs. It is because I have seen so many of these prayers answered that I am so bold as to offer to pray for you individually through this website and phone line.