Pray constantly

Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God

(RSV) 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.

I have to admit, this verse always confused and confounded me. Other than priests and monks how could anyone pray constantly? Even the second part seemed strange – give thanks in all circumstances – certainly you couldn’t give thanks if you are struck by a drunk driver, locked away from loved ones because of COVID, or newly destitute because of a job loss or other financial reasons. Paul had to be nuts to write this…or was he?

I’m not going to cover the second part in this post (maybe another time), but praying constantly is not as bizarre a concept as it may sound, and is not as difficult once you understand how it can be done.

In the Eastern Church the monks taught (lessons from Seraphim of Sarov) that by praying a short mantra continuously it would become so ingrained into your psyche that you would find yourself repeating it without even being aware of it. In essence, your soul would begin praying it without any conscious knowledge on your part. The pray they teach is not only brief, but encapsulated the entire teaching of the Church:

Lord Jesus Christ,
Son of God,
Be merciful to me,
A sinner.

They taught that you would repeat this, at first, aloud, whenever you were not involved in any work or conversation. Next was to continue repeating it while doing your work. Finally, and the most difficult, was to try repeating it even while conversing. It would be difficult at first, but with time and patience you would find that you could hold an entire conversation while still praying. At this point it would become so ingrained that you would wake up from sleep only to discover that your soul was still praying.

It was a nice concept, and probably doable for the clergy, but hardly practical for the average person. What I have discovered over the years is a different method that can be done by those of us who work in the “real world”.

Have you ever done something that, to your surprise, you succeeded at even though you never thought you would? Did you give thanks to the Lord for helping you through it?

Did you ever have a really good time with friends or colleagues? Something where, afterwards, you were really happy that you participated in? Did you give thanks to the Lord for the opportunity?

After you get home from work, after an especially grueling day or commute, did you give thanks to the Lord for seeing you through it?

Each of these events are times to give the Lord thanks. I’m not talking about getting down on your knees and saying a few Our Father’s. I’m talking about a simple look into the Heavens and just saying “Thanks!”

That is what I started doing a few years ago. After everything I do I just look up and do a quick “Thanks!”. (I will do it after finishing this post, as I did when I was given the idea for the post) I got the idea after noticing how many people would exasperate “Thank god!” after something, without really meaning to give thanks.

I now find myself not just thanking God at the end of a task, but also asking for help before it begins. Asking for help as it proceeds, and thanking when I get past an especially tough part.

I enjoy walking and hiking, and will spend the time just talking to God about what is going on in my life, about the beauty of the trails, admiring the flora and fauna that He created. Then thanking Him for the opportunity to enjoy the wilds, and for the ability to do so.

This is all prayer. Prayer, at its very basics, is just talking to God. It doesn’t have to be anything grandiose. It doesn’t have to occur in a church, temple, or synagogue. God didn’t create any of these buildings, man did. Jesus went out into the wilderness, into gardens, onto mountains to pray, in fact it was Jesus who told us:

The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain; and you say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father…true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

(RSV) John 4:19-24

God is everywhere, in everything; prayer can occur anywhere and at any time. God seeks a personal relationship with us, and that means breaking beyond the repetition of fixed prayers (Lord’s Prayer, etc.) and just learning to talk to God as a friend, companion, confidant. Talk to Him about whatever is on you mind; understand that you can feel free to question Him, to get angry with Him (you can’t have a personal relationship with someone if you can’t be honest about your feelings), to tell Him you are sorry.

So, can we, as Paul states, “Pray constantly”? Yes, if we understand that anytime that we talk with God is prayer. The dictionary defines prayer as:

an address to God in word or thought

Merriam-Webster-Webster

So, what are you waiting for? Start praying to God now, thank Him for finding/reading this post. Thank Him for the day you are having, or complain to Him if things are going wrong. Ask for His help, thank Him for giving it to you, question Him if you don’t like the help you received.

“Good night, and may God bless.” – Red Skelton

Letting the rest “rest”

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What might Christianity look like if the Gospels had become ink before the Epistles?  … “The Good News” – Andrew Blair

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I have heard many “let’s go back to The Early Church” exhortations.   I have thought it myself.    Seems to me that replacing much of the “Temple Industry” practices/preferences still endemic in religion today with a “pure” faith (like what Jesus taught) to be an exceedingly good idea.

Except at what point do we drop the flagpole of The Early Church … ?

Before or after The Cross … Before or after Paul … ?  If before The Cross where would the “The Big Reveal” of evangelising be?  And if after … would that be before or after The Ascension – and if after how much after – and if before … why?

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What might Christianity look like if the Gospels had become ink before the Epistles?

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What a profound question from my blog partner!

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For The Early Church was riddled with as much dissent as we have now – just that we prefer to paper over the cracks as we do today.  The Early Church writings have as many tellings-off and “scandals” as today.   The same “role model” churches as today.   As much missionary work as today.   A Head Office structure just like today.   And – just like today – it was (and remains) a numbers game …

“How many have you brought me?”

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I think it another good reason for going bible-blind.  For being selective not in finding proof-verses that kill debate, but in finding the essence of the bible and letting the rest “rest”.

We are addicted to bible study, bible teaching, bible preaching.  We have created an academic-theological language more complex than the most difficult of The Difficult Verses.  We have idolised the verses of burden and sacrifice and hardship and persecution – idolised the verses of soul-saving-counting – made it all such hard work!

We have gone bible-blind in the same way as we have gone Love-blind –  we read the bible and prefer to see darkly – we cannot live without sin and choose to Love sparingly.  And we have that wonderful mantra written on the hearts of every believer:

“We are all but sinners saved”

Which is the get-out-of-jail-free-card used again and again as an excusing of our own weaknesses (or addictions) – along with the superstition at the end of almost every prayer “… in the name of Jesus we ask, amen”.  Or else we won’t get what we ask for!

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What might Christianity look like if the Gospels had become ink before the Epistles?

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I think worth thinking about.

Thank you, Andrew.

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eyes on God

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There are times I am caught and held in the moment of a word, a scent, a sound …

This post caught me – moved me one way with sadness and then another with joy. Even today it seems we have to break free of reading the bible right. Maybe especially today.

And it is moments like this post which remind me we keep on doing it to each other! And I have no idea why.

Thank you Rebekah!

Paul
((hugs))

Clenched Fist: A Poem About Letting Go

Freedom! or  Slavery!

I am curious –

What do you choose to see?

Paul

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(comments closed here – please leave any thoughts at Meg’s place)

megsnotions

the words "Clenched Fist" over a black and white image of a clenched fist

I’ve held on so tightly to what is not mine to hold,
Grasping for control like a drowning man violently flails,
Trying to save himself from sinking when the lifeguard is approaching.
Clinging to the shimmering pyrite I worked so hard to obtain,
Turning away from true treasure, the only lasting gain.

My fists have been clenched for so long now,
Knuckles white, fingers stiff –
Difficult to flex, painful to unbend.
My hands grip the remnants of my pride,
Serving the master of self that ought to be crucified.

Once a slave to sin, I know this master well,
No longer my king yet still a brutal power.
I belong to another Kingdom now,
But Pride holds on tightly to the prey it seeks to devour,
Lulling me back like a clever, abusive lover.

I’m afraid of surrender,
Defensiveness is my nature.
Fists are great for holding but also…

View original post 208 more words

We is always me

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“Somewhere along the line we pick up all of that baggage.  We learn to hate people whose skin color is different, whose beliefs in God are different from ours, who are not from our country, who….  You get the picture.  Where we learned this is not important, how we deal with it is.”
To such belongs the kingdom of God, The Modern Theologian

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How WE deal with it.

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Mike writes about something we all have to deal with at some point: “how do I deal with this.”

I read headlines of how someone else is dealing with “it”.  Someone far away from here.  Someone too young to be a “real” role model.  Someone only in their 30’s.  Someone who hasn’t been around that long.

“Jesus taught about love”

But the person I think of is not Jesus – or maybe is.  Who knows.

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Jacinda Ardern: ‘A leader with love on full display’

The main suspect is Australian, and the victims were from a number of different countries including India, Pakistan, Egypt, Jordan and Somalia. So when Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern appeared behind a podium to deliver a statement a few hours after the attack, it wasn’t just New Zealand who listened to what she had to say. “It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack.”

By so swiftly and decisively describing the shooting as a “terrorist attack”, Ms Ardern seemed to show an awareness and consideration of the fact that many people feel officials are reluctant to use this word when an attacker is white, even if that attack is politically motivated.

Her acknowledgement of the fear and sorrow of the Muslim community didn’t end there, either. She hugged the victims in Christchurch, wearing a black headscarf as a simple show of respect; she gave people the unifying cry “They are us”; and addressing parliament for the first time a few days later, she made a small but bold statement by opening her remarks with the Islamic greeting “As-Salaam Alaikum”.

But she’s combined this show of empathy with promises of concrete legislative and cultural change. A few hours after the attack, she announced a clampdown on the country’s lax gun laws “within 10 days”, and speaking to the BBC’s Clive Myrie she promised to “weed out” racism both in New Zealand and globally. “We cannot think about this in terms of boundaries,” she insisted.

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How WE deal with it.

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We is not you.  We is me.  We is me.  We is me.  Always.

“Jesus taught about love”

But teaching is only “teaching”.  What I do with that teaching is down to me.

Not the teacher – not the class – not the school – not anything to do with anybody else other than me.

Because “we” is always “me”.

First, second and always.

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Thank you –

paulfg

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Love is always the answer?

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Comments under yesterday’s post (justmebeing curious)

“I don’t know how regionalized it is, but where I’m at a cage is what you described, a crate is solid on all sides, except for the door.

I had a professor who told us that (in his opinion) what Jesus meant when he said that the only way to the Father is through him that he was not saying that only Christians could go to the Father, but that only by following his teachings would get us to that goal. Thus, many of those who are not Christian, but follow Jesus’s teaching “as if by the heart”, will be with the Father, while those who call themselves Christians, but fail to follow his teachings, will stand outside watching.”
The Modern Theologian

“A “dog crate” seems to use the word “crate” to avoid using the word “cage”. Guessing that “cage” is a little too “penal” for man’s best friend (or the self-perception of “man” about his behaviour towards “best friend”).

As for the rest – I wonder more and more if we have the same “self-perception language” to “crate” (could we ever admit to “caging”) a God way bigger than any one “religion”.”
It’s for her own good

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And then Mike wrote this post: “Love Conquers All”
Extract …
“The Christian needs the Jew, the Muslim, and, yes, even the Hindu and Native American. It is only by seeing God in his Infinite Diversity that we can see God in everyone we encounter.”

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Why is it that – more and more – “Love is Always the Answer” is as complete as…

I Am

Paul

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Love thy neighbor

I started copying/pasting a small flavour of this beautiful post …

But I found that I was copying and pasting almost the whole post.

The words are that beautiful. Really meaningful truly beautiful.

We are talking about love. My favourite subject. Like a whole bible full of love. If you know where to look.

Mike does.

Why not see if you agree …

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Thank you –

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Paul

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(as always comments closed here, please leave a verbal hug at Mike’s place)

The Modern Theologian

love thy neighbor 3Do you have a Christian love for your neighbor? We all know the story of the Good Samaritan, and how to identify who your neighbor is: the one who treats you with love and compassion. But is that what it really means? Are we just to love those who love us back?

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When Theology doesn’t mean Jack

Less than 500 words.

The few words written by Tom “T. F. Thompson” drilled somewhere very deep inside me.

To explain why would need much more than just “500 words”.

It would need my whole life journey.

I hope something shifts inside you as well as you read these few words.

Thank you Tom –

Paul

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(comments closed, here, please add any words under Tom’s words)

Hard Times Ministries

There he stood in shock; he was stunned and trembling and beyond denial that my friend, George’s newborn child was dead. And yet, yes, his child was indeed dead: dead to the touch, dead to the world and now lay cold and blue and lifeless and pitiful inside the maternity ward of the hospital. Compounding the demanding situation was now, another lady from another room who beckoned George to tend to her plight as her child too was motionless and was presently held by the hysterical mother who begged for God to answer the cry of disbelief.

Pray for my child.” she sobbed. “At least baptize my infant child so that he might enter heaven with our master.”

Of course, George knew this was ridiculous. There was no need to baptize a dead infant, and no, there was no theology to back it up: In fact,the opposite was true.

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A Christmas Letter from Jesus

Karina –

I have no idea how you manage to cut through all the tradition … the divide between the saved and unsaved … the sinners and saved sinners … those who love and those who want to be loved … those who are alone and those who are together … and do it with a fresh eye, a loving eye, an eye for all those who “believe” or not – to invite all to the party – but you have – and I am so glad you did.

Thank you.

🙂

(comments closed here as usual, please leave any thoughts under Karina’s post – thank you) 

Karina's Thought

Hello my dear readers! How’s your doing? I hope and pray everything is going well! In this Christmas season, I will end of my blog post this year with something important to ponder together. I’ve posted this post 3 years ago but I thought it’s still worth as a reflection in Christmas season. I titled this post “A Christmas Letter from Jesus” Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from me, my husband, and our son Andrew. May the blessings and happiness Of Christmas season be yours May the next year be better and happier Happy Holidays!

Dear, my Childs

As you well know, we are getting closer to my birthday. Every year there is a celebration in my honor and I think that this year the celebration will be repeated. During this time there are many people shopping for gifts, there are many radio announcements, TV commercials, and in every…

View original post 902 more words

Give God His Job Back

The result of this egocentric worldview is we end up actually stealing God’s job. Even most pious Catholics decide how to act and speak before they ask the Almighty to bless them. Years ago, God challenged my sense of self-importance:

“You thought you were building My Kingdom as you frantically served the Church, but you were actually hindering the true work of My Holy Spirit. All I want, all I need is for you to stand at the foot of my Son’s Cross and allow the Flames of His Love to pierce your heart, transforming you into His presence on earth.”

melanie jean Juneau has a request: “Give God His Job Back”

 

Paul

(comments closed here)

joy of nine9

 

Most Christians behave, think, and speak as if they are standing right in the middle of the universe with everything and everybody swirling around them. This worldview is as ridiculous as the medieval belief that the earth was the centre of the cosmos. The bottom line is God is the centre of all; man exists as one of a multitude in the Mystical Body of Christ as we love and adore the Creator.

 

The result of this egocentric worldview is we end up actually stealing God’s job. Even most pious Catholics decide how to act and speak before they ask the Almighty to bless them. Years ago, God challenged my sense of self-importance:

You thought you were building My Kingdom as you frantically served the Church, but you were actually hindering the true work of My Holy Spirit. All I want, all I need is for you to…

View original post 1,060 more words