Prayer Practice Fridays – 03-27-20

Fasting

Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing.
-Joel 2: 11-12

One of the Lenten disciplines that is always encouraged is fasting. During this particular Lent we are most certainly fasting in ways that we had never intended. We find ourselves fasting from face-to-face interactions, from going about some of our daily routines, perhaps from picking up our regular items from the store and from experiencing Holy Communion together. None of this comes to us as an intentional fast to make room for prayer but, all of it allowing for time to reflect in prayer on so many different things. This forced fast has been pretty eye opening, allowing time to think about the things that we can’t currently have access to, or that no longer seem like a big deal, and it makes me wonder what things that we are currently fasting from that may not return.

When we talk about fasting as a prayer discipline we speak of filling the space of something we consume with time for prayer and reflection. This is a time of prayer and reflection can be spent giving thanks for what we have been blessed with and praying for those who lack the same. We might find that when we give up a comfort in our lives it readies our hearts for more urgent sacrifices that might be called upon us from time to time. Today it seems we are living in a vulnerable state of fasting. I know that it is one that creates anxiety and a sense of helplessness in not knowing how to help. I urge you to take this time of fasting and create space to pray, to reflect on the blessings that abound in our lives and trust that God is faithful.

Lastly, this week I’ve started reading (literally just started) a book titled “Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals” by Shane Claiborne, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, and Enuma Okoro. It speaks to the ways that Common Prayer helps today’s diverse church pray together across traditions and denominations. It seems most appropriate to me now in light of our current pandemic situation. Early in the book, page 19 on my Kindle to be exact, they have this to say about prayer: “We never pray alone, even when praying by ourselves.” I take great comfort in that during this time and I hope you do too. Remember that we continue to hold you in prayer and long for the day that we gather to pray together.

-Pastor Carrie

Prayer Practice Fridays – March 20, 2020

One of the things that I’ve been doing since we are no longer in the office and working from home is trying to figure out ways to keep folks connected. We are loaded with technology these days that keeps many of us in face to face conversation and allows for meeting one another online and in the cloud. But I’ve also been thinking of the ways that we can stay connected without technology, ways to stay grounded in caring for one another and engaging with the presence of God who is surely with us.

Each Friday for the foreseeable future I want to share with you a different resource for prayer practices and some ways to engage in them. Earlier this week I had also shared the hope that at 6:18 each evening you would take a moment, either as a family around the dinner table, or wherever you happen to be and offer a prayer. The 6:18 comes from Ephesians 6:18 which says: “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” It’s my hope that during this time (and always) we can pray for one another, keeping us connected as the body of Christ, knowing that as you are praying for someone, another is praying for you.

This week I want to share with you “Intercession.” This is the kind of prayer that leads us to pray for others. So I invite you to spend some time thinking about, remembering, and praying for the people who benefit from the gifts and strengths that you offer. You might make a list of those closest to you and see what other names and faces come to mind. You may find yourself surprised. In some cases you will have a strong sense of what to pray for others, in other cases their situations might be far beyond your reach of knowing. In either case pray for them, and when you don’t have the words, simply know that God does. That God understands far beyond our own understanding and he intercedes for us when the words simply don’t come.

I want to commend to you one of my favorite new prayer books. It is simply titled “Prayer Forty Days of Practice” and it’s by Justin McRoberts and Scott Erickson, I ordered mine on Amazon. It includes a short prayer and a sketch to go with it and outlines some prayer practices too. The prayer from this book that I am praying on in these days is this: “May I find freedom in limitation—to fully give myself to what I can do rather than worry about what I cannot.”

Thanks for walking with us as community in this time of separation. I continue to pray for each of you and hope that you are well. Many blessings friends, many blessings.

-Pastor Carrie

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