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Posts Tagged ‘prayer’

With his arrest, trial, and crucifixion just days away, Jesus uttered this brief but telling prayer to his Father: “Now my soul is troubled.  And what should I say – ‘Father, save me from this hour’?  No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour.  Father, glorify your name” (Jn. 12:27,28).

This prayer tells us something of Jesus’ mental state in “this hour.”  Namely, that he was fully human.  He was troubled.  Perhaps the thought of his impending death brought before him its approaching horrors and pains.  Or, perhaps he was anxious about the effect his suffering and death would have upon his disciples.  Whatever the reason, “this hour” drove Jesus to reach out to his Father.

This prayer tells us that Jesus weighed his options.  “What should I say?” is an honest question, and Jesus does not mind his Father knowing that he is pondering it.  “Should I ask for the Father to save me from this hour?” Jesus wonders.  Notice that this is an option Jesus weighs – yes, he contemplates it – then moves away from it.

Amazingly, Jesus understood that “this hour” had its own special purpose.  He knew there was a reason he had come to this hour.  We know, of course, that the events of “this hour” made possible our salvation!

Finally, we learn the astonishing request Jesus made in that prayer: “Father, glorify your name.”  Isn’t this magnificent!  When Jesus’ hour comes he doesn’t pray, “Save me from this hour,” but “Glorify yourself through this hour.”

Our Lord can teach us a lot about how to face dark days of the soul.  When we come to distressing moments in our lives, we can reach out to God for his help.  We can bare our hearts to him in complete honesty.  We can view the hours we would want to be saved from as carrying a meaning and a purpose.  And, when we must endure dark days we can seek, not the avoidance of personal pain and suffering, but that our heavenly Father is glorified in the experience.  Lord, help us to respond as you did when comes our hour of grief and pain!

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The Holocaust

A few days ago I met a very interesting man named Bill.  He is a good man.  One of the really fascinating things that I learned from him was that his parents were both survivors of the Holocaust.  His father was sent to Auschwitz while his mother was exiled to a labor camp.  In the end, when Hitler saw that he was going to lose the war, he gave orders to kill everyone – even those in work camps.  Bill’s mom was shipped from the labor camp to a death camp, along with many others, and she narrowly escaped execution there.  The camp’s name was Bergen-Belsen and she told Bill how the corpses at the camp were piled high in a pyramid type fashion that seemed to reach “up to the sky” as she used to say.  After the war was over, his mom and dad met at a reunification camp in Europe that was set up by the United States and just a few months after Bill was born his family made their way to America.  Even though both of his parents are now deceased, based on his parents’ narratives, Bill can still describe, in precise detail, story after story of horrific events.  In fact, the stories were relayed in such detail to Bill that he can suffer similar feelings of trauma that his parents experienced when he finds himself in parallel circumstances that they described.  Not only are blue eyes or high cheek bones transmitted from parents to children but so are parental effects of trauma and fear.

I have reflected a lot on my conversation with Bill.  How can a person (or group of people) get to a place where not only is it preferable but it is essential to annihilate an entire race of people?  Really.  How does that happen?  When does a person become just a breath away from seeing another person as an “enemy” and as disposable?

The thought that has really haunted me is how much our words and behavior toward others matter.  Although certainly not on Hitler’s level, what I say or how I treat another person impacts their life. . .and often generationally.  I know that as well from my profession as a counselor.  Oftentimes an individual can suffer extreme emotional pain due to the effects of another person’s behavior toward them – or toward their parent(s).

My biggest question after talking with Bill, however, is how do people safeguard themselves from being a “breath away” from “Hitler-ish” behavior?  Where, with their words and behavior, they can annihilate a person’s self-esteem or dreams or relationships?

Thinking about these reflections has been a bit disturbing for me and I know that I need help from outside of myself for this safeguard.  For me the help is prayer.  A funny thing happens with prayer I think.  In prayer I often think I am helping God by asking Him to do things the way I think they should be done.  But in this process of prayer, I am observing, God uses it to change me. . .to soften me. . .to open my heart to see people the way He does.  God is good like that.  Thankfully.

Wouldn’t it be great if God would change us so that we could speak to and treat others with such love and care that the effects of those interactions could flow over into the lives of their children. . .and grandchildren?

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I am hesitant to share what I do in my daily quiet time with my God because I do not want to appear to be tooting my own horn or fishing for kudos.   If I know my heart, this is not my motivation for I am well aware that in my life the only ground for boasting is how God is involved in it.  My motivation for these three posts is the desire to help people who may be searching for a closer walk with God.  Perhaps my story will benefit other God-seekers.

Now, let me pick up where I left off in my last post.  After I finish my three-column Bible study and read my selected commentary, I talk to God.  My usual practice is to begin my prayer with the Scripture for the day.  I find plenty of prayer-fodder there.  For example, this morning’s passage was John 1:8-9.  In my prayer I thanked God for sending Jesus (and John) into the world and for his enlightenment.  I asked God to make me like John and grant me opportunities and courage to witness to the light.  After I pray through the text, I pray through my daily planner.  Today is an Annual Day at Shults-Lewis Children’s Home.  I cannot attend, but I prayed for the children’s home and thanked God for Bob Kallus.  Becky returns home from a national conference today so I prayed for her safe arrival and that the speeches she hears today and the conversations she has will be enriching for her.  I plan to call Mom and Dad and my brother, Kenny, so in my prayer, I thanked God for them and asked him to care for them in specific ways.  I plan to do some dissertation reading today so I asked God to help me stay on task for that and for help to cover a lot of ground.  (The Lord knows I need his help with that one!)  On the docket today is planning for worship in our home tomorrow evening with some friends.  So I prayed that God would give me direction for that period of worship and discussion and that he would bless that gathering.  Well, you get the idea.  My daily activities and the people I encounter through the day become my prayer concerns.

That’s it, the last of the trilogy.  Again, thanks for reading, and I hope these posts have been somewhat helpful.  Please feel free to share your life with me.  Perhaps we can help each other!

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