Heart’s desire


(Photo: Lindy Twaddle)
 

Take delight in the Lord,
      and he will give you
      the desires of your heart
.

(Psalm 37:4)

Reflection

The secret is to connect with – and pursue – the desires that God has placed in our heart.

Recommended listening

Ashton Gustafson in conversation with John Philip Newell, the celebrated author of Listening for the Heartbeat of God: A Celtic Spirituality.
 

United by love

(Photo: Irene Bom)

 

I took this photograph of John and Ruth Robertson's wedding plaque when I last visited them in South Africa in 2015. Both have since passed away after a long life of loving and prayerful devotion in God’s service.

I first met John and Ruth the year after they were married, when I was in my 20’s, and they graciously took me (and later my family) into their hearts and prayers.

Ruth and John had been friends for years and when Ruth heard that John’s wife had died, she sent John a letter of condolence. Imagine her surprise when he came to visit her and proposed. Ruth’s initial response was “no”. She was in her fifties and happily single. But then, after praying about it, she contacted John and said, “If you ask me again, I’ll say yes”. So began a new chapter in their lives as instruments of love as a couple.

May you and I be instruments of love wherever God has called us and may we inspire and support others as John and Ruth have inspired and supported so many over the years – also me.


A prayer: Instruments of love

Let us pray to our kind and merciful God that his love for us may animate all we do and that our love may become contagious. Let us say: Lord, make us instruments of your love.

That the Church, the People of God, may never cease to proclaim by its teaching, life and liturgy that love of God and neighbour is the heart of the gospel and that people are God’s gift to us, let us pray: Lord, make us instruments of your love.

That people may not lose their hearts in today’s economic systems of profit, efficiency, production and competition, but that they may keep giving first place to human relationships of friendship and respect, let us pray: Lord, make us instruments of your love.

That we may have room in our hearts and homes for refugees and strangers, that we may learn to share our goods and ourselves with the little people loved by God – the poor and the lonely and those who suffer, let us pray: Lord, make us instruments of your love.

That those who don’t know how to forgive, those who have not experienced much happiness in life or whose longings have not been fulfilled may encounter a bit of God’s goodness in our attention and care, let us pray: Lord, make us instruments of your love.

That in our Christian communities we may uplift one another rather than tear down, accept each other with trust and affection, forgive one another from the heart and go forward together in hope and love, let us pray: Lord, make us instruments of your love.

Our gentle God, help us to love you and one another with your measure, that is, without measure,
in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

 
from Liturgies Alive, Models of Celebration,
posted on re-worship.blogspot.nl.


Related topics to explore to your heart’s content

  1. Resources for the 2018 week of prayer for Christian unity which takes place annually from 18 to 24 January.
  2. From the blog: Prayer sheet on Theme: The greatest is love

 

3 Prayers for endings and beginnings

Where do you go from here?
Where do you go from here? (photo: Irene Bom)
 

Here are 3 prayers for happier endings and good beginnings as we approach the end of one year and the start of another.

Go with God.

And if you’re looking for guidance on what to focus on in your walk with God in the coming year, here’s Paul’s advice, from his first letter to the Thessalonians:

16 Always be joyful. 17 Never stop praying. 18 Whatever happens, give thanks, because it is God’s will in Christ Jesus that you do this. 19 Don’t put out the Spirit’s fire. 20 Don’t despise what God has revealed. 21 Instead, test everything. Hold on to what is good.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-21 (God’s Word translation)


A new story

Author of Salvation, write in us a new story.
Erase the sins of the past and create a new narrative,
one in which we seek Your love and justice in this world.
Write a new direction for our lives,
away from the busy-ness
    and cares of the world for success and stability,
and instead plot us towards ways of living Your compassion,
care and grace in the world.

Create new opportunities for us, O God,
to explore and live this adventure of life in bold and daring ways,
in which new insights may unfold for us.
Grant us the fullness of life by living for others,
as You taught us to love our neighbour as ourselves,
but most of all, may our story be about You,
about Your love for us,
and what Your love for us calls us to do.
In the name of Christ,
who writes the new ending and beginning, we pray.
Amen.

by Rev. Mindi, and posted on her Rev-o-lution blog.


God’s timing

O God of all seasons and senses,
grant us the sense of your timing
to submit gracefully and rejoice quietly
in the turn of the seasons.

In this season of short days and long nights,
of grey and white and cold,
teach us the lessons of endings;
children growing, friends leaving, loved ones dying,
grieving over,
grudges over,
blaming over,
excuses over.

O God, grant us a sense of your timing.

In this season of short days and long nights,
of grey and white and cold,
teach us the lessons of beginnings;
that such waitings and endings may be the starting place,
a planting of seeds which bring to birth
    what is ready to be born –
something right and just and different,
a new song, a deeper relationship, a fuller love –
in the fullness of your time.

O God, grant us the sense of your timing.

by Ted Loder, in Guerrillas of Grace.


Prayer at the threshold

And so we take the ragged fragments,

the patches of darkness
that give shape to the light;
the scraps of desires
unslaked or realized;
the memories of spaces
of blessing, of pain.

And so we gather the scattered pieces

the hopes we carry
fractured or whole;
the struggles of birthing
exhausted, elated;
the places of welcome
that bring healing and life.

And so we lay them at the threshold, God;

bid you hold them, bless them, use them;
ask you tend them, mend them,
transform them
to keep us warm,
make us whole, and send us forth.

by Jan L. Richardson in Through the Advent Door: Entering a Contemplative Christmas, Posted on Prayers and Creeds.


Tip: World in prayer
Their final post for 2017 invites us to pray for everyone and includes a list of every nation, so we can pray for them by name.

 
Other posts in the “3 Prayers” series
3 Prayers to the Sacred Trinity
3 Prayers for Wayfarers
3 Prayers for Refugees

Together we pray

Have you heard?

This year, the General Assembly asked the Church to focus on prayer and particularly to pray as the Church thinks about its priorities for the future.

Source: http://www.churchofscotland.org.uk/connect/together_we_pray

Back story

In 2016 a series of meetings were held around Scotland
a) to listen to the hopes and concerns of church members and
b) to explore solutions to the challenges of ministry and discipleship in the 21st century.

One of the outcomes is a prayer initiative called “Together We Pray” that runs from September 2017 to the next General Assembly in May 2018, with a National Day of Prayer scheduled for 25 November 2017.

“Our hope is that through Together We Pray, people will join together bringing all of life before God in prayer and imagine the future for the Church of Scotland and our communities.”

It would be good if we, as the International Presbytery of the Church of Scotland, also responded to this call to prayer, giving “Together We Pray” an international dimension.


Check out the Church of Scotland website for inspirational resources and for information on how you and your congregation can get involved.

God of grace

The World News in Prayer entry for this week weaves together the particulars of current events with the John Newton song Amazing Grace in a prayer to the God of grace, relief and safety.

You can find the prayer here.

Why not use one of your favourite hymns as an inspiration for prayer this week?


See also: Balm to heal the world

Tips for using a Prayer Sheet

List of prayer sheet blog posts

I’ve been compiling prayer sheets for some years now. It’s my way of “preparing the way for the Lord” (Isaiah 40:3) when asked to lead a prayer meeting. The prayer sheet serves as a framework, with prayers and responses to share, as well as room for silence, personal concerns and spontaneous prayer.

I’ve repurposed some of the prayer sheets to share via the blog, with more in the pipeline. I’m also keen to compile prayer sheets to complement the theme of the month. A prayer sheet on a water-related theme is already in the making.

Prayer sheet blog posts include all the individual components, as well as a link to a pdf version in a handy format you can print out for personal use or to share.

My friend, Margriet, has a whole collection of prayer sheets that I’ve compiled over the years. She often has one tucked in her diary to refer to when she needs a moment for contemplation in her busy life. She says: “I draw strength from the prayers and readings so I can better help others.” For my part, I’m grateful that the prayer sheets continue to bear fruit.

Some ideas for using a prayer sheet in its printed form

1. Annotate the prayer sheet to personalize it, adding related verses, prayers and prayer requests.

2. Use the prayer sheet as a book mark, or keep a copy in your journal/diary, so you can refer to it when you have a moment for reflection.

3. Take a few copies with you on holiday to use as an aid to contemplation while out in nature or other quiet spot. On your own or with family/travel companions.

4. Take copies of a prayer sheet on an appropriate theme with you when you visit someone who might appreciate a time of prayer and reflection together. Possibly leave a copy with them.

5. Use a prayer sheet as a devotional with your Bible Study group or in family worship.

Prayer sheets currently available

Theme: Sharing in Jesus’ ministry
Theme: Do not lose heart
Theme: God makes all things new
Theme: Ever sustaining


If you have ideas or stories related to the use of prayer sheets, please share them in the comments.

Word study: Shema

The Bible Project
Someone in my congregation sent me a glowing commendation for The Bible Project, especially their video devoted to the first word of the ancient biblical prayer called “The Shema”.

Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

(Deuteronomy 6:4-5, NIVUK)

The second video in the series explores the word, “Lord”.
Here’s the link.

Four more videos to come in the series.

About the series

“For thousands of years Jewish people have daily prayed these words which summarize the Bible’s call for faithfulness and devotion to God. We will explore all of the key words in this prayer and what they meant in their original language and historical context.” (https://thebibleproject.com/product/word-study-shema-listen-2/)

Balm to heal the world

Balm definition from dictionary.com

The World News in Prayer entry for this week is pretty moving in the wake of recent attacks in Manchester and London and the fear and anger these attacks inspire in us and in our leaders. I want to commend it to you.

You can find the prayer here.

I was particularly taken with this paragraph:

“So again I turn to all the pieces of my faith – to hymns and scriptures, to prayer and worship. Maybe there is a Balm in Gilead, or a Blessed Assurance, even an Amazing Grace.” (World News in Prayer June 8, 2017)

The reference to the “Balm of Gilead” (Jeremiah 8:22) really resonated with me since I was inspired to use the phrase “balm of Calvary” in one of my recent songs, a song called All is accomplished.

Verse 1
All is accomplished,
He bowed his head.
The man, the crucified
His name be blessed.
He bore the blame,
became accursed.
He is the the balm of Calvary
that heals the world.