Dear Prayer Warriors,
What is wrong with me? I go to church. I pray every day. I give what I can in the collection plate. I work hard for my family, and I try to do the right things. But sometimes I feel disconnected. Sometimes my heart is not in the worship. What is wrong with me?
Lord, I love you and I want to live right for you, but I know you love me more than I can imagine. You suffered and died for me so I could be with you. Because of what you have done for me I have been made free of the burden of my sins. I don’t have to worry about what I have done, or constantly worry that I am going to say or do the wrong thing. I have seen your miracles and the wonders you have done in mine and other’s lives. I do not doubt that you are always there and watching over me. So, what is wrong with me? Why do I struggle? Why do I feel disconnected?
I want to feel close to you. I want to not only show my love to you, but live it that others would see you in me. I work really hard to pray every day for my children, family, friends and our country. Your holiness overwhelms me. How can you care so much for some little ole’ thing like me? I want to worship you with my whole heart, but this fogginess gets in the way. I want your awesomeness to become clear to me.
Yosemite Valley in California is one of the most beautiful places on earth. To get there you go through a tunnel which opens to an awesome view of the entire valley — El Capitan, Half Dome, Cathedral Rock. Right at that tunnel opening there is a parking area where everyone is out of their cars, looking at the view, saying “Ooooh!!!” and “Aaaah!!!”
Now imagine you drive through that tunnel, but when you emerge all you see is fog. No awesome view, just thick, gray, soupy fog.
That’s what is wrong with me! I have still been trying to control my life, emotions, and pride. That’s what happens to me when I am not feeling worship. I need to surrender all! Give it all to You! The beauty of God is right in front of me. But blocking that view is the fog of unbelief — worries, or pride, or greed, or ashamedly imitating worship.
If we just go through the motions in worship then it’s like getting out of the car at the parking area, staring at the fog, and saying “Ooooh… Aaaah…” — words, but with no feeling. Why do that?
What can we do when our hearts feel nothing? What we must not do is think feelings are optional — and just go through the motions, acting as if we are feeling what we are saying and singing. Jesus called that hypocrisy: “You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me…’” (Matthew 15:7–8) But if our hearts are feeling far from God, and were not supposed to just go through the motions, what else can we do?
At the beginning of Psalm 40 David’s heart was not full of worshipful feelings. Quite the contrary, actually. He felt like he was in a pit of destruction, and stuck in miry clay (Psalm 40:2). But then God lifted him from that pit of destruction, set his feet upon a rock, and put a song of praise in his mouth (Psalm 40:2–3).
So what happened between feeling stuck in miry clay — and singing praise to God? David tells us in verse 1: “I waited patiently for the Lord.” So David did not go through the motions of worship. Nor did he give up on worship. Instead, he waited patiently for the Lord to help him worship.
What does it mean to wait for the Lord? We could think it means passively hoping that God will change us. But the Hebrew word does not mean passive waiting; it means eager seeking. It means taking the steps that God has promised to use to help us, while trusting him expectantly to work. But if we will wait on the Lord, it’s just a matter of time before the wind of the Spirit starts to blow, the fog starts to break up, we see the beauty of God revealed in Christ — and we worship.
Even those of us who love God, only know love because He loved us first. If the answers to our prayers hinges on the veracity of our love for God, we are doomed. Thanks be to God, that the prayer He hears, the prayer He answers, a worthy prayer cries, "Lord, I am the one you love!"
Yours in Christ,
Those in need of Prayer:
Those Serving in the Military: Greg Kassel; Mike Leonas
For those suffering from depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and mental illness.
For all expecting mothers and their children; Rachel Micheel, Betsy Cochran.
For all who grieve, including Brenda LaCour and family at the death of her grandmother
For the unemployed and underemployed; the hungry; the poor; the homeless
For our nation, and for all the nations on the earth.
For all who are travelling.
For all those celebrating anniversaries
For those having marital problems and/or are facing divorce
For Marge and Harry Schultz who celebrated their 67th anniversary. For all others celebrating anniversaries. For God to strengthen and provide for Christian families.
For Pastor Jon, that God would give him wisdom and guidance as he is being called to the Senior Pastor role here at BSLC.
For BSLC during the vacancy and on into the future, that God would grant us to remain the truth, be faithful stewards, effective witnesses, and united in the work of the Gospel.
That God would bless all our efforts to reach out and encourage visitors and inactive members
For God’s blessings on the new adult instruction class underway. For spiritual growth in all of our Bible studies and groups.
That God would bless the Student Ministries activities that are in the near future, that students would learn in grow in the Word, and have the protection of God over them.
For the Abounding Harvest Benefit this Sunday
For the new Upward season about to begin.
That God would bless Our Redeemer Lutheran Church
That God would richly bless our local and international partnerships in mission:
Rev. Bob Malone at Peace Lutheran in Kansas City, MO – especially during their vacancy
by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
In your mind's eye I want you to picture Jesus at the Feeding of the Five Thousand. Hungry multitudes cover the hillside. Jesus takes the little boy's lunch, lifts it up, and says the familiar prayer: "Bless this food to the nourishing and strengthening of our bodies. Amen." I'm here to tell you that it just didn't happen like that. No way!
Since when did we begin to bless our food, anyway? Frankly, our food's been blessed to the point that most of us -- how shall I say this -- are "overnourished."
You find two words in the New Testament used in connection with praying before meals.
Here's what really happened at the Feeding of the Five Thousand. "Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves" (Mark 6:41). The Greek word for "gave thanks" (NIV) or "blessed" (KJV) is "eulogeo," from which we get our English word "eulogy." It means "speak well of, praise, extol." The word commonly translates the Hebrew word, "barak," "to bless." But it wasn't the food Jesus was "speaking well of" or "blessing," it was his Father.
Every faithful Jew would offer this blessing before partaking of bread: "Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the world, who has caused bread to come forth out of the earth." Before partaking of wine, the blessing was said this way: "Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the world, who has created the fruit of the vine." The first word, "eulogeo," reminds us to eulogize or praise God before we eat.
The second praying-before-meals word is the Greek word "eucharisteo," from which we get our English word "Eucharist," often used as the name of Holy Communion. "Eucharisteo" means, "be thankful, offer thanks," and was used at the Last Supper.
"While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks (eulogeo) and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, 'Take and eat; this is my body.' Then he took the cup, gave thanks (eucharisteo) and offered it to them, saying, 'Drink from it, all of you' " (Matthew 26:26-27, NIV).
What Jesus was doing at this Passover meal was offering to his Father the traditional blessings when bread and wine were eaten. It was common for Jews to offer a blessing for each food served during a meal.
The Bless Me Club
So how did we Christians end up blessing the food instead of God? Tradition? Habit? Some of the confusion may have come from a mistranslation of the passage I just quoted. In the King James Version, Matthew 26:26 reads: "And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, 'Take, eat; this is my body.' " Notice how the tiny word "it" was added after the word "blessed"? The word "it" isn't part of the Greek text -- that's why it's in italics in the King James Version. But "bless it" implies something far different than "bless God." That addition of one little word may have twisted the way we pray before meals into something Jesus didn't intend at all.
Not that there's anything wrong in asking a blessing from God. There's not. Jesus taught us to pray, "Give us this day our daily bread" -- but only after praise: "Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done...." No, asking favors from God isn't wrong, but it shouldn't be the primary part of our prayers, or we become like greedy little children: "Gimme this! Gimme that!". Those prayers are essentially selfish rather than self-giving. They don't fulfill either the First Commandment, to love God with all our heart, or the Second, to love our neighbor as ourselves.
How Should We Pray?
The Apostle Paul put it in this perspective. "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God" (Philippians 4:6). Notice the phrase "with thanksgiving" tucked in there with "present your requests to God." It's essential to keep prayer God-centered rather than self-centered. It's also the key to praying with real faith.
So when you pray, remember that your food doesn't deserve a blessing nearly so much as God who gave it. You can bless like Jesus did, "Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the world, who has caused bread to come forth out of the earth." Or offer a simple prayer of thanks to God for the food. Next time, don't "ask the blessing," but offer one to your Father.
Father, for those who’ve gone before us and remained faithful to the end we take note of their example. For those who have sacrificed their lives that we might have freedom to read Your Word and worship freely we are greatly indebted. And for those of us who remain we want to be vigilant in our daily walk with You, ever growing in Your grace and knowledge, and staying faithful until we draw the last mortal breath on this side, so that our first immortal breath on the other side will be from the portals of heaven. It’s all because of Your amazing love, Father, and Jesus’ divine sacrifice. Amen.
by Henry Morris, Ph.D
Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:20)
Thankfulness is one of the evidences that a Christian is indeed “filled with the Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). Paul’s letter to the Ephesians lists the characteristics of being filled with the Spirit, demonstrated when believers are thankful for everything that happens in their lives.
Believers should be thankful. But there’s more—not only for everything, but in everything, we should give thanks to God. “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
This command is easy to obey when the living is easy, though we might easily forget to do so. But when the Lord is allowing us to hurt for a while, thanksgiving becomes hard. It is hard while we are experiencing the difficulty with no relief in sight, and it is often just as hard when it has passed. The two small prepositions “in” and “for” are different in New Testament Greek as well as in modern English, and God really wants us to learn how to thank Him both during and after the hard experience.
Why? Because He has allowed the hardship for a good purpose!
The apostle James urges us to “count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations [various testings]; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (James 1:2-4). Paul says that we can even “glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Romans 5:3-5).
Patience and real love will come to characterize a habitually thankful Christian.
Adapted from Dr. Morris’ article “Thanks for Everything” in the Winter 2004 Days of Praise.
by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
"Then the sicknes begane to fall sore amongst them, and the weather so bad .... the Gov/r and cheefe of them, seeing so many dye, and fall downe sick dayly, thought it no wisdom to send away the ship...."
Capt. Miles Standish had been much at his wife Rose's bedside. As much time, that is, as he could spare from stalking game, guarding against savages, and felling trees to construct crude homes on shore.
A bitter wind whistled through chinks and cracks in the Mayflower, anchored in Plymouth harbor that winter of 1620-21. Rose's chills would turn to uncontrollable shaking. Then just as suddenly, her body would be ablaze with fever. Herbs from the surgeon's chest did little to relieve her. By spring only five wives remained out of the eighteen who had sailed to Plymouth. Rose was not among them.
Thanksgiving? What was that? The golden dreams of a New World that Miles and Rose had cherished together had evaporated into hollow hopes. And yet that fall Capt. Standish joined other bereaved Pilgrims in the first Thanksgiving celebration.
The real test of thankfulness is whether we can give thanks from the heart for what we do have, despite the wounds and pains of yesterday's struggles. Ours is not some fair-weather faith, but a resilient trust in in the midst of pain. The Pilgrims lived close to the edge of survival. Perhaps that is why they were so thankful.
How about you? Does your material bounty cause you to neglect thanks? When your clan gathers this Thanksgiving will a prayer of thankfulness be forgotten between moist turkey and pumpkin pie? Will your children see you bow your head to give thanks, or merely ask for another helping of dressing and cranberry sauce?
Children will be watching, you know. And their little faith is being formed by what they see. Your family's Thanksgiving celebration will instruct them about thankfulness, for good or ill.
Will they see you too wealthy to be thankful? Too independent to need God any more? Too bitter, perhaps? Or will they watch you truly give thanks for God's blessings on this special day? And maybe as they watch, they'll catch a hint that mom and dad and grandmother, in spite of painful seasons they have faced, have seen these bitter winters bear fruit in better thanksgiving.