All posts tagged: prayer

I Never Thought I was a Cynic… Until I Read This Book.

A Praying Life (Connecting with God in a distracting world) by Paul E. Miller NavPress, 2009 Every so often you read a book that completely reboots the way you think. A Praying Life has been that kind of book for me. Don’t be turned off by the title – or the cover for that matter. This is a book with the potential to change your perspective on every level, not just the few minutes you grab with God each day, running through a list of pleases and thank yous in your head. Paul begins by defining prayer as “interconnected with all of life”. Such an important distinction right there. He continues, “Because prayer is all about relationship, we can’t work on prayer as an isolated part of life. That would be like going to the gym and working out just on your left arm.” With an easy turn of phrase, Paul grounds his teaching with stories, many from his own family including the trials and triumphs of his daughter Kim who has autism and developmental delay. Paul and …

Walk of Peace

6:15 the alarm screeches. And screeches. And screeches. I roll out of bed, pull on some trackies, a hoody, sneakers and walk out the door, at least halfway to consciousness. The birds are already awake. As I walk down into the Gorge, I switch off the music playing in my headphones, rip them from my ears and instead listen to God. “Be still and know that I am God.” Like a whisper spoken behind cupped hand into hair, he stills my mind and awakens my senses. A blue wren lands on the path ahead, his mate flirting nearby. Wattle trees punctuate the scrub with their sunny blossoms and the air is still. A jogger puffs by, “Good morning!” She’s one of only three people I pass on this pre-brekky walk. I’ve made the decision to get serious about my exercise, which equates to a couple of gym sessions and some early morning walks each week. When I set the alarm the night before, half expecting to hit snooze and miss the opportunity, I didn’t imagine this. This nourishing …

The God of ALWAYS and NEVER

“Always” and “never” are adverbs most at home in the angst of an argument. “You NEVER help with the chores!” “You’re ALWAYS nagging!” Perhaps you’re incredibly civilised and don’t partake in domestic mud slinging, but for those of us who do, “always” and “never” conversations are commonplace. “Why do you ALWAYS say that?” “Why is it that you NEVER make time for me, but you have no end of time for your friends?” Aside from the fact that such statements are pretty much “always” untrue, they’re also pretty much “never” useful. They also demonstrate our humanity; the fact that we’re imperfect beings yearning for perfection. We are trying to fill our ALWAYS and NEVER desires with flawed people. Square peg, round hole. In reality, I can only trust the “always” and “never” conversations of one being. God. “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you,” he promises (Hebrews 13:5). “I am with you always, to the very end of the age,” Jesus affirms again in Matthew 28:20. These are promises that no man …

Keeping Prayer Simple, Immediate and Relevant.

If you’ve ever wondered why it’s widely expected that eyes be closed tight during prayer, just listen to the attempts of a three-year-old flouting the rule. “Thank you Jesus for the food and please keep us safe and thank you for mummy and daddy and… thank you for the window and the rubbish bin and dinosaurs and…” It’s at about this point that Master Three’s roving eyes meet mine and he finishes with a hurried “amen” and a cheeky grin. Gotta love him! Heads bowed, eyes closed and hands clasped aren’t such bad instructions, if a little tight-laced. To be honest, I can never find my authoritative mummy voice to reprimand our little man at prayer time. He’s talking to God and God deserves our respect, but we forget too often that faith is a relationship of many dimensions, including humour. The Lord’s Prayer is a particular difficulty for kids and I’ve heard some stellar mispronunciations: “Our Father who art in heaven, Howard by they name” or “How’d you know my name?” “Give us this …

An Ordinary Guy Called Merv

He rocks up each week and sets up his sandwich board in Launceston’s Brisbane Street Mall. The sign simply asks, “Need Prayer?” Perhaps you’ve seen Merv on a Thursday, standing there whatever the weather, armed with a friendly greeting and a smile. As you’ve bustled about, ticking items off your shopping list, Merv has been looking for eye contact and the opportunity to bestow blessing on someone’s day. It takes a certain amount of courage to shelve one’s inhibitions and put faith into action. I’ve always admired people with such conviction that their beliefs are more important than how they are perceived by the rest of the herd. Even if their beliefs are different to mine – who can help but acknowledge the self-sacrifice they make? People like Merv, however, aren’t about passing judgement or shoving religion down people’s throats. When I asked him why he would do such a counter-cultural thing as offering to pray for strangers in a city’s busiest shopping district, he said it was to “be a friendly face” and to …

You’re Not You When You’re Spiritually Hungry

What happens if builders aren’t themselves? A certain chocolate bar brand (with a main ingredient of peanuts and a name that rhymes with knickers) took it on board to find out in its latest advertising campaign.  The one-minute commercial that, at face value, questions accepted stereotypes of builders and women, went viral. You’ve probably seen it, but for those who haven’t…  picture Melbourne construction workers decked out in fluoro vests and helmets, beards and leers, looking down from their multi-storey construction site at unsuspecting female pedestrians below. “Hey darlin’, you have y’self a lovely day!” one calls out. “I appreciate your appearance is just one aspect of who you are!” “I’d like to show you… the respect you deserve,” another yells. The responses from women – who, according to Clemenger BBDO (the creative agency behind the ad), were unsuspecting passers-by – are classic.  Quizzical looks.  Nervous smiles.  One woman looks ahead and behind her to check that they are actually talking to her.  One slows down, neck craned, laughing, finally coming to a complete standstill …

The Parable of the Lost Ring in the Skip Bin

My better half came home from work the other day all cheery and exhilarated. “You are not going to believe what happened to me,” he said, landing me with a kiss. He goes on to tell me how after school that day (he’s a teacher) he was helping clear out a classroom for renovations, emptying armloads and binloads of rubbish into a skip bin.  They’d been at it for a good half-hour before he realised he was no longer wearing a ring on his right hand, middle finger.  The hammered silver one that we had made for our five-year wedding anniversary.  Gone. At this point my eyes traveled to his right hand in the same way that some of us skip to the last chapter of a suspenseful novel.  His fingers were bare.  He caught my eye and, with a grim smile, continued. So there he was standing beside the skip bin, knowing that somewhere in that immense jumble of junk was a little piece of precious metal that he’d likely lost for good. “I …

Design Your Own Family Traditions

My dad has a pretty warped sense of humour. Case in point: I’m going to title this example The Vegemite Assassin. At some point in my teens Father Comedy thought it would be a funny prank to creep up behind his unsuspecting victim (one of his three offspring) and smear vegemite across their face, usually leaving a brown smudge that travelled from the bottom lip to the opposite cheek, allowing for an unexpected punch of salty goop in our mouths. Aussie or no, this is not something you can prepare for. As we groaned and rolled our eyes, licking our lips and heading to the bathroom to clean up, the not-so-covert Vegemite Assassin could be heard practically choking on his own laughter. Tears, holding his sides, the works. It began to happen more often – dad’s courage being fuelled by our reactions. He even did it to a friend once. Mortifying. It wasn’t long before The Vegemite Assassin got a taste of his own… gag, and that, my friends, was the start of a decades-long family tradition that is …