Tag Archives: prayer

Morning

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Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; 
   great is your faithfulness. Lam.3:22-23.

This morning I wake early, while darkness softly dissolves into daylight.  I creep downstairs in the sleepy stillness, brew a steaming mug of coffee, curl into the squishiest corner of the sofa, cuddle deep in my favorite blanket.  In the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed. Kahlil Gibran.

This wraps arms of sustaining grace around my day:

The Grace of the Cross

O my Savior

I thank You from the depths of my being

For Your woundrous grace and love

In bearing my sin in your own body on the tree.

May your Cross be to me

as the tree that sweetens my bitter Marahs,     (Ex.15:22-27)   

as the rod that blossoms with life and beauty,      (Numbers 17)

as the brazen serpent that calls forth the look of faith.      (Numbers 31:4-8)

By your Cross crucify my every sin;

Use it to increase my intimacy with Yourself;

Make it the vigor of my love, thankfulness, graces;

And by it give me that rest without rest,

the rest of ceaseless praise.

O my Lord & Savior,

You have also appointed me a cross to take up and carry,

a cross before you give me a crown.

You have appointed it to be my portion,

but self-love hates it,

without the grace of patience I cannot bear it.

O blessed cross, what mercies do you bring with you!

You are only esteemed heavy because I shirk my load.

Teach me, gracious Lord & Savior,

that with my cross you send promised grace

so that I may bear it patiently,

that my cross is your yoke which is easy

and my burden which is light.

From The Valley of Vision:  A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotsions by Arthur Bennet.  

Life surges through me, settles my mind and heart, recalls a thousand renewing mercies.  Once again, the Way of the Cross does not seem so hard.

Seeds

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Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. Mark 4:27-28.

I ponder the meaning of grace.  Undeserved favor, clemency, mercy, reprieve, pardon.  I live a life soaked in grace.  Some souls live prideful, unaware of the cost of the mercy that shelters them.  Not me.  I breathe fresh grace in constant awe since I come from the dank history of repetitive failure.  Grace sustains me because I need it so much.  I want it to define me.

This morning I curled up with my coffee and read this,

“By our own natural strength and understanding, we human beings cannot take one step on the road to Heaven.  We cannot do our own growing.  We cannot grow our spiritual lives any more than we can grow our bodies.  True, we can eat and drink; but we eat and drink primarily because we are hungry and thirsty, not in order to grow.  Growth is a phenomenon that happens behind our backs, when we are not looking.  It happens the way seeds sprout in the earth.”  Mike Mason, The Gospel According to Job.

In spite of my regular prayers to walk in grace, this is a truth that sparkles new to me today.  Grace (undeserved favor, clemency, mercy, reprieve, pardon) is the fountainhead of holiness as well as salvation.  Yes, I must nourish myself in the rich soil of study, prayer, community, good deeds, confession, healing, meditation.  These provide the necessary environment for the hidden work of holiness – and they are fulfilling in their own right. But, after all, neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 1 Cor.3:7.  If we earnestly desire spiritual maturity, our souls must strain upward for His presence, not inward to our own striving.

“In the life of faith one of the hardest things to do is to refrain from laboring and spinning and instead to see ourselves as being like flowers or grain, growing not by our own efforts but by the grace of God.”

This truth consumes me.  There is no holiness without grace, no righteousness without the hard Way of the Cross. I do not earn or deserve my own sanctification any more than I earn or deserve my own salvation. But nothing, nothing is impossible with God.  His extravagant and scandalous favor re-invents me.  To Him be the eternal glory that shines from this mysterious conspiracy of divine Love.

O, how I love my Jesus.

 For as the soil makes the sprout come up 
   and a garden causes seeds to grow, 
so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness 
   and praise spring up…

Is.61:11

Sands

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My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. 
   When can I go and meet with God? Ps.40:2.

On Tuesday, I spoke with a lovely lady who spends hours a day in Bible study and prayer. The pages of her Bible are scrolled with tiny writing; the thoughts, prayers and study notes of a woman who lives her life it the precious Words.  Her Bible is covered in plastic wrap to shelter its ragged binding and tattered pages.  Every other week I sit next to this woman in Women’s Bible Study and I stare, mesmerized, at that Bible.  I barely know this beautiful saint; I just met her a few weeks ago.  But I am knit to her heart because she is head over heels for the Word of God, just like me.  I asked her about her time with the Lord and she told me that she immerses herself in Him for hours a day.  She journals, prays, reads, worships, studies.  Hours.a.day.

As I drove home from Bible study, my children bombarded me with NOISE.  Ok, friends, my kids are just LOUD.  They ARE.  I clenched the steering wheel and disciplined my mind to listen to their little voices, to engage their little hearts.

When I got home, I fed them lunch, switched over a load of laundry, picked up toys, unloaded the dishwasher, cleaned up lunch, put Lucy down for a nap with stories and prayers, wiped down counters, let the dog out.  I thought about my Bible study friend as Jack clamored for my attention.  I thought about spending hours a day with the Lord.  I looked down at my little man, five years old, face upturned with expectancy in his shining star eyes.

So I spent my afternoon in worship.

God has ordained time to slip away like sand streaming through our fingers.  We have so little of it, so few moments to redeem for glory.  O how I long for more time to spend at Your feet, Lord, to be Your Mary, to soak You in.   Those days will come, both on earth and in heaven.  Someday my little ones will be big ones, and these long, loud, endless days will seem like vapors in the wind.  But today is not that day.  Today is the day to make cupcakes with Spiderman, to read Lulu’s Shoes yet again, to sort through the laundry basket to find a clean dishcloth, to take them upstairs for another round of discipline, to spend my quiet times begging for infinite grace to sustain my motherhood.  These are the years of double portions of manna.

In Psalm 27:4, King David whispered a dream to the Lord:

One thing I ask from the Lord, 
   this only do I seek: 
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord 
   all the days of my life, 
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord 
   and to seek him in his temple. 

David ached to dwell intimately with God, to spend every moment in awed worship in the shelter of the dwelling place of God.  But God did not ask David to be a priest. David was a King.  David carried a banner of leadership unparalleled in redemptive history. David’s heart was in the temple, but his life was in the palace.  

Lord, give me wisdom to know where to spill my sands of time.  Lavishly on You, lavishly on the Three who share my home, sparingly and with wisdom everywhere else. Thank You for the plastic-wrapped Bible and for the smears of icing on smiling faces.   Make a way for those of us whose hearts are in Your presence but whose lives are in the sands.  

Prayer

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His little body hunches over on my lap, hands clutching the sides of his head as he buries his face in my lap.  My son prays over my daughter before her nap.

Jesus, I love You.  Thank you for creating.  Thank you for creating butter and sugar.  I need you to build something else.  I need you to build us a bigger faith.

He pauses, looks up at me with his brow still knit from the effort of thought and prayer.  I gape at him, this formidable man of faith hanging in the stasis of a little body. He nods at me, eyes locked on mine,  kisses Lucy on the cheek and jaunts off to his room and his Spiderman puzzle.

Amen. And amen.  

Every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged of man. Rabindranath Tagore

O, how much I learn from the golden grace of motherhood!