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Category: Prayer

Best Prayer

“Marry those loves, which in youth scattered be On fame, wit, hopes (false mistresses) to thee. Churches are best for prayer, that have least light: To see God only, I go out of sight: And to ‘scape stormy days, I choose an everlasting night.” (Donne)  

Grand Juncture

The great questions of life — Who am I? Where did I come from? Is there meaning and purpose? Where is God in suffering? — all intersect and are resolved only in communion. Preaching, when it understands itself, is invitation and preparation for communion. Fruitful service, rather than the justification for communion, only arises from it. Whatever does not arise from faith, no matter how impressive to the world, is sin. Real friendship happens only in communion. Every ending points back to communion. Every communicant participates in the new future that God stands ever ready to give to those who look to him in trust. The Christian life is retailing every day what we lay up for ourselves in communion.

Blessed Barrenness

God turned Hannah’s barrenness, in the midst of Israel’s barrenness, into blessedness (1Samuel 1:4-20) inviting us to bless God also in our barren times. Hannah’s barrenness parallels Israel’s barrenness. Judges, immediately preceding, describes a national cycle whose overall trend was down. After the people entered the Promised Land they prospered as long as they remembered how hard won were their blessings. But as soon as those died who remembered warfare, prosperity took its toll; they fell away and they brought on themselves all the curses that Moses had predicted in Deuteronomy. When judgment fell, they repented, they called on God, and God sent them a judge who freed them from their enemies. As long as that judge lived they had…

Work Another Network

“Don’t be afraid… Those who are with us are more than those who are with them. And Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes…” (2 Kings 16-17) Ahab and Jezebel voted Elisha least likely to succeed as prophet. No wonder — he neglected the basics; he neither believed in himself, nor did he ingratiate the powerful. He annoyed pagan dignitary Naaman, by keeping quietly at home, speaking only through his servant Gehazi.  Distrusting princes, (Psalm 146:3) Elisha worked another network. The old University of Chicago Divinity School library, in its last year of use when I arrived there as a student in 1980, included human-sized angels (I wanted to say life-sized, but who knows what that is?) carved in the rafters, so that…

Be Still

“Idle hands cannot do the Devil’s work!” says concussion-addled Basil Fawlty (John Cleese), frustrated manager and owner of Fawlty Towers, (“The Germans” episode), after his zeal to do good nearly destroyed his hotel and landed him in the hospital. Everywhere I hear – “all that is needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” There are times when that is true, when silence amounts to cowardly complicity. Paul says that God’s death sentence falls not only on those who do wickedness but those who stand by and approve with their silence. (Romans 1:32) But there are also times when stillness furnishes the most powerful resistance. Our challenge is to know what time it is. We cannot transmit…