What will it take?

Many of us love this familiar passage:

“”And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit.”

‭‭Joel‬ ‭2:28-29‬ ‭ESV‬‬

However, we tend to overlook some verses that lead up to it:

“”Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.

Blow the trumpet in Zion; consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly; gather the people. Consecrate the congregation; assemble the elders; gather the children, even nursing infants. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her chamber.”

‭‭Joel‬ ‭2:12-13, 15-16‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Can you imagine pastors in a region issuing a call for prayer and fasting — and having all of God’s people respond, with parents bringing their children into the prayer gatherings, and newlyweds leaving their honeymoons to come and pray? How desperate would we have to get for something like that to happen? How much more violence, bloodshed, civil unrest, and terrorist attacks will it take for the Church in America to repent, fast, weep, and allow our hearts to be broken? What will it take for us to make joining together in prayer a priority?

A prayer for peace

O God, the author of peace and lover of concord, to know you is eternal life and to serve you is perfect freedom: Defend us, your humble servants, in all assaults of our enemies; that we, surely trusting on your defense, may not fear the power of any adversaries, through the night of Jesus Christ our Lord.

– from Texts for Common Prayer

Uganda

From today’s morning office:

Among the new nations of Africa, Uganda is the most predominantly Christian. Mission work began there in the 1870’s with the favor of King Mutesa, who died in 1884. However, his son and successor, King Mwanga, opposed all foreign presence, including the missions.James Hannington, born 1847, was sent out from England in 1884 by the Anglican Church as missionary Bishop of Eastern Equatorial Africa. As he was travelling toward Uganda, he was apprehended by emissaries of King Mwanga. He and his companions were brutally treated and, a week later, 29 October 1885, most of them were put to death. Hannington’s last words were: “Go tell your master that I have purchased the road to Uganda with my blood.”

The first native martyr was the Roman Catholic Joseph Mkasa Balikuddembe, who was beheaded after having rebuked the king for his debauchery and for the murder of Bishop Hannington. On 3 June 1886, a group of 32 men and boys, 22 Roman Catholic and 10 Anglican, were burned at the stake. Most of them were young pages in Mwanga’s household, from their head-man, Charles Lwanga, to the thirteen-year-old Kizito, who went to his death “laughing and chattering.” These and many other Ugandan Christians suffered for their faith then and in the next few years.

In 1977, the Anglican Archbishop Janani Luwum and many other Christians suffered death for their faith under the tyrant Idi Amin.

Thanks largely to their common heritage of suffering for their Master, Christians of various communions in Uganda have always been on excellent terms.

(written by James Kiefer)

Prayer

O God, whose blessed martyrs in Uganda opened in the heart of Africa the new and living way of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ: Grant us, who cherish their remembrance before thee this day, to remain steadfast in our faith in him, to whom they gave obedience unto death; even the same Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Prayer of thanksgiving 

From today’s morning office:

Almighty God, Father of all mercies, we your unworthy servants give you humble thanks for all your goodness and loving-kindness to us and to all whom you have made. We bless you for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life; but above all for your immeasurable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ; for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory. And, we pray, give us such an awareness of your mercies, that with truly thankful hearts we may show forth your praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives, by giving up our selves to your service, and by walking before you in holiness and righteousness all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory throughout all ages. Amen.

Living the adventure

I would like to write that the reason no new posts have appeared for awhile is because I’ve been far too busy having adventures in prayer to write about them. While that might sound quite pious and spiritual, it isn’t exactly true. The truth is that I’m finding it difficult to articulate those things that I have wanted to express on this blog.

But, I did want to share my latest adventure. Hopefully I’ll follow this with a longer post in a few days, describing my experience.

I’m writing this from the International House of Prayer in Kansas City.
IMG_2891

IMG_2894

I’ll have to save the story of how I got here…and why I’m here for the next few days…for a future post.

In the meantime, I’ve been spending the past hour and a half worshipping, praying, and meditating on Scripture. And writing this blog post.

IMG_2893

Prayer of repentance

Most merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against thee
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved thee with our whole heart:
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.
For the sake of thy Son Jesus Christ,
have mercy on us and forgive us;
that we my delight in thy will,
and walk in thy ways,
to the glory of thy Name. Amen.

– from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer

A place to pray

The Bible tells us to “pray without ceasing”, which would necessitate the ability to pray anywhere and everywhere. That, in turn, would seem to imply that we don’t need a special place set aside just to pray.

So why do I have this in my living room?

IMG_2482

To be honest, I don’t have a theological reason, or a particularly profound one. There is nothing particularly holy or sacred about anything in this picture. But I have discovered that I am the sort of person who benefits from having a place set aside for prayer. It is a constant reminder that I have committed myself to a life of prayer. It is both an encouragement and a gentle rebuke when I fall short. It is a place where I can shut out all (well, as many as possible) distractions and focus on God.

I need physical, visual reminders. I’m just that sort of person. And I am growing increasing aware of my need for places and spaces that are set aside…consecrated even…for prayer.

IMG_2434

It’s a rather puzzling realization for a house church person to be making.