Tag Archives: prayer

Narrow escapes

narrow escape

I’ve been in dangers. I’ve brushed with death. The greatest danger is hellfire. I thank God He pulled me out of lostness and into salvation. What would have happened to me, had it not been for God?

They make a great mistaken when they say we think we’re better than anyone else. No, Christians are not better. They are just better off. We are better off because:

  • we recognize our sinful condition.
  • we ask for and receive God’s forgiveness.
  • we throw ourselves into the loving arms of the Eternal Father.
  • we are blessed on Earth on our journey to Heaven.

Don’t fall prey to the enemy of your soul.

Original picture from Beautiful Pictures on Google Circles. I don’t own the rights to this image, and I’m not making any money on it.

Dream. Pray. Live.

dream pray live

Don’t give up on dreaming. Don’t give up on praying. Don’t give up on living.

For when you have done any of those three, your life has become a mechanical nothingness.

Original image: Beautiful Pictures on Google Circles. I don’t own the rights to this picture, and I’m not making any money with it.

Keep praying

Just because you don't see anything happening, doesn't mean nothing is happening.

Just because you don’t see anything happening doesn’t mean nothing is happening.

Jesus described the Spirit like a wind, which, in his day, no one knew where it came from or where it was going. So too, we can never know the answers to prayer that are occurring in ways we never imagined, in places we never imagined, to people we never imagined.

If we just keep praying.

Original picture: Beautiful Pictures on Google Circles.

The thrill of defeat

Lighthouse Church School My middle school soccer team got spanked 0-7 yesterday. It was so incredibly satisfying.

Why? Because forming soccer players disciples of Christ makes my heart hum. Because challenges make you grow. Because you have to lose in order to learn how to win.

The Lighthouse Church School players hemorrhaged goals because they were out of position over and over again. With a gaggle of beginners, with little guys, what else can you expect? I told them where to be and what to do, but did they get it?

They got it yesterday — by losing.

So now, we are expecting better results.

Hopefully more kids will be “in the zone” too. Some of the kids appeared to spend parts of the game thinking about the snack at the end. Other kids looked like roots were growing out of the soles of their feet and into the ground. They were stationary.

And if we can find at least one player who can handle our goal kicks (and not pass it directly to the opponents at 15 yards from goal), that would be most helpful.

As for the Brentwood School’s B team, they positioned themselves well enough and passed the ball proficiently. Thankfully, the “B” team’s finishing was “B” in quality. Otherwise the score might have been 14-0.

I love it.

Think on the positive

think positiveThe world and worries will drag you down. Make a concerted effort to focus on anything positive, no matter how small. A spark of light shines brightly if all is darkness. Thinking positive is also a part of faith.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. – Phil. 4:8

Photo: From Pinterest. I don’t own the rights to the original, and I’m not making any money on it.

God’s thoughts about you are always only good

God thoughtsBanish from your mind the frowning severe face of God that you imagine is angry at your for your sin. His anger was already spent on Jesus, who took your punishment. So He is happy with you and thinks good about you.

You have multiplied, O LORD my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you. — Psm 40:5 ESV.

Missionaries in the Philippines battle gunman with prayer

Jaquith-Daniel-and-Colleen

They were awakened abruptly by the sound of two explosions as a masked gunman burst into Daniel and Colleen Jaquith’s missionary complex in the Philippines and demanded money.

The gunman shot a Filipino pastor in the foot, pointed a handgun at his head, and demanded to be taken to the Americans, according to a report by Christian News Northwest.

The Jaquiths shared about the March 4, 2014 incident on a home visit to Newberg, Oregon recently.

Awakened by the explosions, the Jaquiths were then startled to see the gunman appear in their doorway with the pastor as hostage. “Give me the money, or I will kill you!” he shouted.

In response, the Jaquiths dropped to their knees and began to pray. “Colleen and I were desperate and defenseless there on our bed,” Dan said. “In our desperation we both began to unitedly cry out to the Lord with very loud and intense prayers. I prayerfully went to my knees.” Read the rest of the story.

The missionaries website: http://btti.org

Tinkering is like prayer

stealth fighterWhen he was kid, my dad turned on his model airplane engine in the garage to let it run a while and unwittingly splattered oil all over the walls. His dad, my grandfather, bawled him out.

The maiden flight was a failure. My dad was discouraged but kept tinkering. Eventually, he graduated from Berkeley and worked at Lockheed’s super secret skunkworks in Rye Canyon. He worked on the now-outmoded stealth fighter, which crashed in test flight and very nearly killed the pilot.

Eventually, the engineers got it right, and the strike plane was used against Iraq, its radar-evading technology confounded enemies. Tinkering won the day.

Tinkering reminds me of prayer, which people view as a waste of time. True, we Americans are very busy. But time spent with God is never wasted.

Prayer is like research and development, cutting edge change, because you are consulting the all powerful God.

Pawn of fate?

pawn of fateNo matter how much Oedipus and his parents try to foil the oracle, what Apollos has determined for him cannot be avoided: he is destined to kill his father and marry his mother. And then for such a heinous crime, he is to be punished, as determined by the “gods” — even though he is an unwilling victim of gods’ predetermined will.

By contrast, the Christian God grants ample room for human decision. You can realize a great destiny of blessing, happiness and even ministry if you decide to serve God. If you choose fleshliness over and over, however, you will lose blessings of God in your life both now and in the afterlife.

There are no pawns of fate in Christianity but each man falls prey of his own bad decisions.

If you pray, you change the future.

Art from Zach Smithson on Deviant Art. I don’t own the rights to this picture, and I’m not making any money on it.

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God is waiting to hear you

God is listening

To serve Jesus is to serve people

serve JesusIn the Middle Ages, if you REALLY wanted to serve God, you went off to a cave where you could be touched by no worldly temptations and lived with no human contact.

While there is value to the contemplative life of prayer, true Christian service is rendered unto needy humans. Jesus congratulates some for feeding the hungry, the sick, the imprisoned, for giving clothes to the poor. They are incredulous. They don’t remember doing this to Jesus: Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?

Jesus responds: Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me. – Matt. 25:37-40 NIV.

Jesus inseparably identifies himself not with the pope, not with the saint, not with the pastor, but with the poor and abject.

There are all kinds of needs. There are suicidal kids, dying marriages, gospel-ignorant peoples. The picture is of remote modern hermits in Ethiopia who follow the the hermit model. I don’t criticize anyone’s efforts to serve Christ. I’m sure they’re making an impact in the world through prayer. But I wish to say here: Serving PEOPLE of any need is serving Jesus.

‘Through’ is the operative word

through failures and disappointmentsWe face innumerable failures and disappointments in life. Youth sometimes can’t see beyond the momentary difficulties and turn to cutting. It’s important to conceptualize a brighter day ahead.

Maybe you’ve been down and out for years and years. Maybe it was not all your fault, or maybe mostly it was. No matter. God has a brighter future for you. Seek Him and wait patiently.

Failure and disappointments are NOT a final destination. They are the waystation towards success. Don’t stay there. Keep moving. Bonanza lies ahead.

How much faith do you need?

enough faithDon’t agonize over whether you have enough faith to receive an answer from God.  Just keep praying because all you need is a tiny amount of faith. Just enough to go to prayer.

As praise goes up, grace flows down

waterfall

from Godinterest

Worship contains a paradox: When you lift up God, He lifts you up. If you’re down in the dumps, rise to praise, and God will raise you up.

We felt your prayers pushing us forward

prayer powerFour guys from LA, young guys, rebels who have turned to God, went to Guatemala believing they could possibly be used. What happened at the Door Church in Guatemala was extraordinary: people were healed, faith was restored, forgiveness came back between brethren.

And I’m happy. That was the church God used me to raise up. I was troubled by some negative trends happening there now in my absence. God used Arti Cedillo, a former Satanist, to preach. Pastor Steven Fernandez, a former street thug, was their guide and body guard. Junior Cervantez, a former graffiti artist, and Johnny Huerta, a former partier, went along for the fun of it and wound up making a great spiritual impact also.

Junior was skate-boarding the the marijuana-smokers who frequent the church’s street in front. Johnny bought McDonald’s for all the kids one night, a treat so rare because of poverty it’s usually reserved for only for a kid’s birthday.

Arti said when he got back: We felt your prayers literally pushing us forward. And that’s how I was reminded of the power of prayer.

Ping

ping…from God.

All day long every day. Are you reachable?

As soon as you ping God, you’ll get a quick and strong response. He’s waiting for you to cry out to him. You think nobody sees, no one knows. He has been stretching His arms out to you all day long. You have not known. Ask Him if He’s real, if He’s there. He’ll wrap you up in His arms.

Rejoice always

rejoiceRejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! — Phil 4:4 NIV.

Rebekah’s first Halloween

Now she’s 18.

We were missionaries in Guatemala where they don’t really celebrate Halloween. One year our annual Bible conference coincided with Halloween, so Rebekah, then 10, got to go door-to-door trick-or-treating for the first time. It happened to be immediately upon arrival. She was young enough to not remember the previous years.

The next day, she asked, “Can we go door-to-door again and get more candy?”

Rebekah thought that everyday in the United States, kids go door-to-door and gather candy. It’s just a normal part of everyday American life. Because she couldn’t remember the previous year’s experiences, she didn’t realize we didn’t do that the year before.

We ought to come to church expecting candy every time. God has a treat for us if we want it. If you come to church miserable, you’ll probably go home empty-handed. God wants to delight you every time.

Gratitude

gratitude

Pic from gratitude-alittlegoesalongway.blogspot.com. I don’t own the rights to this image, nor am I making any money on it.

No sooner was the cupbearer freed from jail than he forgot his promise to help Joseph, who had interpreted his dream. Joseph had been imprisoned under false accusation. God was with nevertheless, even though the cupbearer forgot his debt for Joseph’s interpretation of the dream that Pharaoh would free him.

TWO YEARS LATER, Pharaoh has a dream that none of his sorcerers can interpret. Only then does the cupbearer remember his faults and tells Pharaoh about Joseph, who is promptly freed, washed, shaved and ushered into Pharaoh’s presence. He interprets Pharaoh’s dream, and his fortunes are changed.

Sadly, most of us fall in with the cupbearer. God has given us so many good things, and we don’t want to remember or acknowledge our debt of gratitude to Him.

Asking God for too little

asklittlegetmuchHe asked for a handout. Peter gave him a healing.

Expecting to get some money, the crippled temple beggar directed his attention to Peter and John. Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk, Peter said in Acts 3:6 NIV.

He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God — Acts 3:8 NIV.

He got MUCH more from God than he expected.

Why do we downsize our prayers? Why down scale down our faith?

God is NOT:

  • offended if we ask big.
  • unable to give.
  • displeased by too much faith.
  • upset by our audacity.
  • budgeting his company.
  • on a diet Himself.
  • scrimping to make ends meet.
  • requiring coupons.

To the contrary, we are ordered to move mountains, not molehills.

The importance of moon shots

from Wired.com

from Wired.com

Larry Page, the leader of Google, tells his employees that every product they make must be 10X better than the competition. Next on the list of things for Google: self-driving cars, wearable computers, mapping the human race’s DNA code. He’s eternally dissatisfied, and that drives him to pursue greater heights. Mediocrity and modest gains be damned. Shoot for the moon.

As Christians, we should have vision and dream big. What is keeping us from bigger things? Many times our own scaled-down vision. Read more about Larry Page. It inspired me.

Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. — Mark 11:23 NIV.

Prayer to Prevail

pray prevail

To prevail, pray.

Out of dirt comes gold

goldNo one wishes for dirt, but out of the mire of life comes gold.

Your soul is gold. Joy is gold. Treasure comes from troubles. Don’t bewail the travails your currently passing. You can’t get gold unless you get into the dirt.

Shame for the Name

shameThey departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. – Acts 5:41 KJV

Peter and disciples had just been arrested for preaching Jesus. The Sanhedrin whipped them and warned them to stop. Threats and beatings are what made them rejoice.

Are you suffering for Christ? Take heart. That is what the disciples did. They didn’t get discouraged. They didn’t ask, “Why, God?” They praised God for the difficulties and dug in. They prayed for strength to continue.

Don’t give up, if you are fighting the good fight. Rejoice for the opposition, for the reverses, for the trials. Things appear to be spiraling out of control. In reality, God has everything under control and will work it all out in ways you can’t imagine.

No one listens to me

Does God listenWhat do you mean no one wants to listen to you?

I have been waiting for years for you to talk to Me.

What are YOU doing with the ball? Pass it to…

luis suarez 2

Defeating England, Luis Suarez hammers a ball in. I don’t own the rights to this photo, and I’m not making any money on it.

Give him a ball in front of the net, and Luis Suarez makes the goal.

Actually, two of them. The Uruguayan ace headed one goal and slammed home a second to oust England, the vaunted authors of modern soccer, out of the World Cup this past week. The highest goal-scorer in the English Premier League this season, seemingly doesn’t fail.

suarez

What a smile! I don’t own the rights to this photo, and I’m not making any money on it.

Not every forward is a sharp-shooter of this caliber. Most are about 50%. Suarez does it all. He’s fast. He possesses a potent kick. He’s physical. He utilizes creative play. He maintains possession. He’s got my vote for best striker worldwide. Get a ball to him anywhere near the area, and it’s an assured goal.

If you like winning, you’ll want to have Suarez Jesus on your team. In fact, many Christians are losing the game. Why? Because they have possession of the ball.

WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH THE BALL? PASS IT TO JESUS.

Passing the ball to Jesus is called prayer.

Prayer is leveraging

prayer

 

 

 

At the California Science Center in Los Angeles, you can pick up a pickup truck. A small child can pull on a rope many yards out pulling a lever down. At the other end of the fulcrum, hanging on a shorter side of the lever, is the truck. It’s a thrill for kids to feel like Superman.

Prayer works like leveraging.

toyota-tundra-giant-leverIn finances, if you can manage to invest loaned money to make more money than you own on the interest, you can be fabulously wealthy. You don’t have any $. You take others’ $, invest it with brains, and then you get loads of $$$.

Prayer works like that. It multiplies your meager efforts and magnifies your impact. Prayer accomplishes what is humanly impossible.

When I was a pastor/missionary in Guatemala, we went from the ghetto to the Historic Center, four blocks away from the National Palace. We went from preaching on the bus to housing a thriving school and church. God did it. I prayed.

Be a bee seeking flowers

bees flowers

flies dung

I’m off to Guatemala. Please pray for revival and miracles!

photo(9)

At the Lighthouse, even such hardened rivals as UCLA-USC love each other and live in harmony.

We are heading to Guatemala and expect to see miracles in the healing crusade. So please put your mustard seed faith into a prayer for the Door Church in Guatemala and your servant.

Much love, Mike

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You want what?

God's sovereignty

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Pray Like You Mean It

Pray Like You Mean It

Pray for my trip to Africa.

Africa Medical missionDr. Bob Hamilton has done medical missions in Africa for years, and finally I’m going. If the mustardseedbudget.wordpress.com has ever blessed you, then please pray God raises up $3,000 for air fare, hotel, food, visas, immunizations, etc. The trip is March 27 to April 6.

I have written in the capacity as a journalist about these medical missions before (a 3-part series that starts here), and now I want to report firsthand in support of this awesome ministry. Thanks for your prayers!

Oh yeah, you can read about the Lighthouse medical missions on its website here.

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Prayer is best in the morning

prayer getting dressed

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Keep praying

keep praying

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Listen2God

Listen2God

Prayer: Moses ‘rocked’ until he threw stones

frustration and prayer

Stop striking out in anger and calling people “rebels.” It won’t bring any good. Instead, pray.

Moses brought 40 years of ministry to a depressing demise because he acted out of frustration instead of faith. “Speak to the Rock!” God had told him. “And the waters will gush out for their thirst in this dry desert.”

Instead, Moses struck the Rock with his staff. And he called the people “rebels.” He upbraided them and appropriated the miracle to himself instead of giving God the credit.

As a result, waters came out and the people quenched their thirst. But Moses wasn’t allowed to to into the Promised Land. He was deprived of the crown jewel to complete his ministry. He was cut off from the flourish finish. In short, he was cut short, and 40 years of effective ministry became ineffective.

moses and prayerSuch a disappointing denouement is a high-pitched warning to those of us who want to persevere in ministry. Did he just burn out? Did he stop believing in prayer?

The New Testament identifies the “Rock” as Jesus. Did Moses lash out at God because “one more trial” was a critical mass for him? It is sobering to think. Let’s stick with prayer and faith and avoid frustration.

Jesus is enough

I needed to remember this.

Finances for your ministry: a Vacation Bible School boon

finances for your ministryI don’t like expensive church activities, so when Brenda Bowen announced a $10/week vacation Bible school, I was overjoyed.

Brenda Bowen

Trained in utter poverty of African missions, Brenda Bowen delivered ministry that excluded no one from the salvation message.

There would be hardly any money for the snacks, the crafts and all the activities that were to be done. I was drafted for a couple of skits, one of which was clowns with my son and another boy. What fun!

But since God is great, the project finished with $80 extra — not the shortage I imagined impossible to avoid. This is God’s provision for His ministry.

If you are working to save souls, you can expect God to take care of you. Like Peter who hauled in a net-wrenching haul of fish when there were none in the lake, so God will multiply and make something out of nothing. When you pray for finances, believe and wait expectantly.

Little prayers: how to pray

a cheap padlock

A $1 padlock like this one saved us!

 

My brother made fun of us when he visited our mission church in Guatemala. Too many padlocks, he moaned.

But one extra little padlock saved us from getting completely robbed.

The thieves sawed through an iron bar to enter at the window probably at 2 a.m. They served themselves leftover coffee and ate breads. They were in no hurry. Guatemalan police are overrun with crime and work fewer shifts at night. No neighbors would interfer; they could get shot for that.

How to pray

Sweet reunion with the much-loved Pastor Alex

They took our keyboard and a few other things. But one small padlock on the outside of the door kept them from walking off with our school’s computers. I

Faith, Pastor Steven's daughter.

Faith, Pastor Steven’s daughter.

guess they ran out of time because the $1 Chinese padlock was no formidable security. What they took had to fit out the upstairs window.

Sometimes, it’s the itty bitty things that save you. That little prayer — unaccompanied by fasting, with no fancy language — will make the difference. Don’t skip it thinking it’s a mere nothing. However short it may be, however unadorned, speak it to God with sincerity. That small “cheapo” prayer may be the single factor preventing the thief (the devil) from running off with everything.

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Why do we exist?

LivetoServe

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But what about eternity?

manmade wonders

Your Defender

lifesmash

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo courtesy of Imprezzme.blogspot.com

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Hardship

hardship

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How to pray? Feel the power behind you

How to pray?

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Imprison negative thoughts

PositiveThinking

How to pray? Optimize

  • How to pray?
  • Prayers from the Bible
  • Prayer optimization
How to pray? Optimize

from Christianity Matters blog

Recently, a close friend was broken. His ex was possibly dying from cancer, and even though she was an ex, heart strings were tugged. He came with me to prayer and poured out his heart to God asking for her healing. She’s better now. God answered from grace. Even though God answered, my friend still is not coming to church for gratitude, for commitment, for anything.

from cloud lounge blog

from cloud lounge blog

God’s grace is the greatest thing. You don’t earn salvation, and He doesn’t deny your prayer request just because you’re not attending church. You cannot earn a positive response from God.

But it seems to me like we’re not optimizing our prayer life when we treat God only as 911. We call Him only in emergency. It seems to me that we actually optimize our prayers when we serve Him faithfully. It’s an insult to God when we treat Him as unimportant 364 days out of the year and only remember Him on the one day we have a crisis. Still, He answers out of His grace, not out of our merits (because even when we’re somewhat faithful, we have not merits).

from blue pueblo blog

from blue pueblo blog

I don’t pretend to fully understand this. I’m only describing a tension that deserves to be rectified. There’s no mathematical formula for when you will get an answer and when not. God’s grace overrides any formula.

Maybe the best way to describe this is to say, treating God only as an Emergency Service in Heaven, is not cool. How to pray? Don’t be uncool.

Holy Cannoli! Prayer’s good!

  • How do I pray?
  • Prayer of faith
  • Bible prayers
purple berries

Cousin Dave with freshly picked raspberries and purple berries, not as tart at the black, rasp or boysenberries. They’re official unscientific name is Royalty Purple Raspberries.

I discovered relatives are wonderful.

Disconnected from my East Rochester relatives by 16 years of missionary work and lack of funds, I haven’t seen them essentially since 1988. Now I have children. I wanted to take my kids to see Niagara Falls.

Genesee Country Village and Museum Civil War reenactmentThey saw much more than just that. They saw a Civil War reenactment battle. They boated down the Erie Canal. They munched purple berries and raspberries fresh from the garden. They drove a John Deere lawn mower. They ate cannolies, Abbot’s frozen custards, and red hots. The list goes on.

Abbott's

Mmm! Abbott’s habit-forming custard ice cream cones

My definition of relative: someone who loves you for no apparent reason and showers blessings down on you. S/he hugs you without having met you before and includes you a wonderful thing called family.

Holy cannoli! Prayer's good!

In front of the American Falls at Niagara

God is our Father, or in New Testament lingo, abba, daddy. When we look up to Him, we are not addressing a bot which indexes unfeelingly our merits and flaws to rank us to see if we deserve an answer. We are not before the stern judge, the contract lawyer, the boss who’s trying to exploit us and intimidate us. We are not before the school teacher who humiliates us publicly, the fake Facebook friend who’s always happy but ultimately uninterested in us.

How do I pray?We are in front of a father. Recently, I found out about a dad who spent $2 million trying to clean up his daughter’s past so she can go on to a bright future. The job’s not done, and he’s still spending. No limits to what he will do for his girl.

God does even more than that for us. Much confusion about prayer can be dismissed simply if we remember that Jesus begins the model prayer: Our Father. The marrow of prayer is love — God’s love. When he doesn’t answer immediately, it’s because He loves us and the delay is better. How do I pray? Know to Whom you’re talking: a loving dad.

Power of prayer: Niagara’s waters

  • Power of prayer
  • How to pray?
Power of prayer: Niagara's waters

My son Robert, on the precipice of power on the Canadian Falls.

Emerald water look like thick glass, inviting tourists to dip a toe — or even take a swim. The alluring beauty of Niagara Falls belies its power — 6 million cubic feet flows in an irresistible current every minute over the crest. One-hundred-and-sixty-five feet below, as it pounds into the whirling pool, it raises a relentless thunder and mists that bathes people for 100 yards away.

Niagara Falls

Water leaping from the heights pounds the poor below, raising mists over 200 feet into the air, drenching tourists. Note the boat at the bottom that fits 200 passengers.

Behind the beauty lies true power.

Many look at prayer as a beautiful thing. They fail to perceive its weight of crushing power. Nations have been overturned. Darkness has ceded to radiant light. The onward rush of worldliness has been diverted, the press of sin blunted. Why? Because of prayer.

Horseshoe FallsOh look! How beautiful! She prays!

To the contrary, look, how powerful: she prays.

In a material world where we are taught to measure scientifically with our five senses, we can forget entirely the unmeasurable life-changing power of prayer. Just because a prayer experiment would be impossible (with one group that receives prayer and the other that does not), we tend to dismiss it.

Where science leaves off, faith picks up and continue to describe the reality of our multi-faceted existence. Pray today! Effect change. Don’t miss the power behind the beauty of prayer.

How do I pray? Zach’s fall

How do I pray?

how do I pray?

Zach, staying off the left cheek, with his wife, Hillary

Zach plummeted 30-40 feet and missed the deepest part of the Malibu Creek Rock Pool, where only the manliest most insane dare to dive from the top rocks. He thought he broke his tail bone, but it only turned out to be muscle damage.

His freakishly swollen left buttock has been quite a novelty for teasing friends and family. Apparently Zach unembarrassedly bares butt for all interested gawkers to see and even photograph. I demurred.

no fear

On Thursday, Zach daredevil-dove at the Malibu Creek Rock Pool

We thanked God today for the miracle. He could have broken his back and been paralyzed.

Zach is an enigma to me. He’s equal parts bravado tough guy (he played football for UCLA) and compassionate nice guy. There’s not a dare he would skip or a rebellious punk he wouldn’t empathize with. For the last six years, he’s performed the unlauded labor of church cleaning for no pay, even though it deprives him of sleep and his wife. Cleaning starts at 5 a.m. He speaks of the “cleaning greats” at the Lighthouse Church, the men who taught him how to tame the wild beast of ubiquitous dirt when our K-12 kicks in.

Malibu Creek Rock Pool

After the plunge.

I am intrigued by Zach. I want to be like him. He seems to me to be a Christian ideal. Like Zach, we must be tough. We must withstand the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and remain faithful to God. Like Zach, we must be compassionate. Without empathy, we’re shrill Pharisees. We must feel the hurt of so many millions who have been defrauded by the promises of sin.

Prayer must be tough enough to persevere. It must come from compassion and empathy. Can we feel people’s pain as God does? How do I pray? With toughness and with compassion.

How to pray? Thrills seekers

How to pray?

thrills seekers

Whee!

All of a sudden, my friend, Zach, fell from the sky like a bolt. We were at the Malibu Creek Rock Pool where kids dive off the rocks into the waters below. But he hadn’t warned me he was going to fling himself from the highest perch — 30-40 feet up. When I saw him appear in the sky, my heart leapt.

I guess he knows what he’s doing, I said to myself. His head bobbed up in the water, and he swam to the side. It was my first time at the pond, and I watched in horror as other kids lunged from lesser heights. I’m a chicken for such thrills-seeking.

Malibu Creek Rock Pool

Ouch!

Zach, a 25-year-old former UCLA football player, hit a rock. He clambered out of the lake in pain. He had broken his tail bone in the depths of the pool. (UPDATE: Either prayer healed him or he didn’t break the bone, doctor now says! PTL! Just swollen.)

Not everyone likes this brand of fun. But as human beings, we gravitate toward excitement. Some like the thrill of a pay raise. Others, a business venture. Others, work out hard at the gym to turn eyes in the restaurant.

How to pray? Thrills seekers

Jenny flung herself from a lower perch. Still, it struck fear in my heart.

Actually a hardened prayer warrior is not a bored person. He likes thrills too! His thrills, though, derive from answers to prayer. It may takes months or years, but when you see a person change (get off drugs, improve their marriage, whatever), there’s an interior thrill of knowing you affected positively the course of human affairs. This is how to pray.

high diveMaybe you’re not interested in waiting months for an answer to prayers. Maybe you like weeks of bed rest instead.

Maybe my friend Zach will be praying a lot these days — because he won’t be doing too much else.