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Friday, February 16, 2018

Pray for Families (Pray for your Persecutors)

Greetings Prayer Warriors,

“17 Killed in Mass shooting.”

Once again tragedy strikes, this time at a Florida high school. It is heartbreaking to hear of such a senseless loss of life. Please pray for all of the families who lost love ones as well as all the surviving students and staff who are traumatized. Please pray for their emotional healing so that anger, resentment, bitterness, and hate won't set up a permanent camp to destroy them further.

Our God comes and will not be silent! The heavens proclaim his righteousness, for God himself is the judge. Psalms 50:3, 6

Bless those who persecute [you], bless and do not curse them. 
Romans 12:14

I now ask that you open your hearts wider. While what the shooter did was very evil, let us pray for him too.

“You have committed a grave sin. Now I will go up to the LORD; perhaps I may be able to make atonement for your sin.”  Exodus 32:30

While many are crying out for greater gun control, my gut cries out that we have to look even further upstream. Let’s look at the stability of his family life. He was adopted as a baby, lost his new father at the young age of 5/6, suffered from developmental and learning disabilities for most of his life, and then loses his mother at age 18/19, which was just last November. He made several bad choices in his life.  There is no excuse for his behavior, but I feel a great sadness for him.

Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more. Romans 5:20

What impact does the breakdown of his family have?  What impact would an early diagnosis and treatment of mental illness and depression have? If these things weren’t major issues in our country, would we be worrying about guns?

Only God knows.

Is anyone among you suffering? He should pray.  James 5:13

Lord, we so often feel helpless when tragedy strikes.  Let us remember that you have taught us how to pray. We ask for a conversion of the shooter, that he may become contrite of heart and repent of his evil ways. We ask for your healing grace upon the families and community that are suffering so greatly.  May your great love bring them comfort and peace and lead them to a place of forgiveness. 

Peace, Joy, and Love,

Forgiveness.  Mercy.  Love. Pass it on.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Pray for Marriages (Effective Communication)

Greetings Prayer Warriors,

Recently my company offered its employees a class on “Interpersonal Effectiveness”, which offered strategies for communication in relationships of all types.  Their hope was to get 25-30 people to sign up. Since field employees also wanted to attend, they offered the class simultaneously via video-conferencing.  As the course began, they mentioned they had to nix the video-conferencing and live-stream the course because to their surprise over 500 employees had signed up!  Ten minutes into the class they said the live stream was crashing because 1000 people were trying to join the live-stream! My sense is this overwhelming need to have effective one-on-one communication skills is representative of society at large.  I

Good communication certainly is vital within a marriage and learning how to communicate effectively is never-ending! While courses and books on communication offer helpful tools for improving communication with your spouse, learning to use those tools is the difficult part.  Not being the expert, I can only offer some brief insights.
  • Ground all conversations in love.
  • Never allow daggers to fly from your tongue, as wounds may heal but scars remain.
  • Often it’s what you didn’t say that can cause a rift in the relationship.
  • Never start the sentence with “you”, instead use the word “I”
  • When your communications are a total miss, rest in the Lord and ask Him to help you find the missing link.
Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun set on your anger, and do not leave room for the devil.  Ephesians 4:26-27

And when you are frustrated beyond belief….

Consider it all joy,  [  ]  when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and he will be given it. James 1:2-5

Lord, only through you, can we stay in the conversation. Only through you, can we stay grounded in love. Only through you can we see our contribution to the difficulties we are experiencing.  Only through you can we see how our words and tone lack kindness. Only you can bridge the long gaps of silence.  Only you can help us find joy in the cross.  Gift us with your presence, by being our unbreakable bond.  Hear our prayers, no matter how weak, and strengthen our marriage.

He must increase; I must decrease. John 3:30

Peace, Joy, and Love,

Excellence always begins in Him.  Prayer is the perfect form of communication! Pass it on! 

Friday, February 9, 2018

Pray for Family (The Gift of Wisdom)

Greetings Prayer Warriors,

Today I am in warm and sunny Southern California. The weather is an amazing anti-depressant, which is welcome when you live in Seattle as I do. I am blessed to spend time with my mother at her Catholic independent living residence. There is much wisdom to be gained from the elderly!

How much better to get wisdom than gold! To get understanding is preferable to silver. Proverbs 15:16

I had the pleasure of dining with the residents today, several of whom are priests. All the residents have joy, despite their frailties and sometimes-obvious crosses. My mother loves to entertain them with her humor. She never hesitates to share her wisdom, no matter how opinionated it may appear. J The elderly of today are special to me as most were raised during the depression and served in or supported those in WWII or the Korean War. They know what selflessness truly is.

Today my prayer is to celebrate the gift of family time, especially with the elderly. As you too pray for family, may your prayers include the action of truly engaging with them.

Peace, Joy, and Love,

Seek the wisdom of the elderly! It may be now or never. Pass it on!

Monday, February 5, 2018

Pray for Marriages (Reboot and Resend!)

 Greetings Prayer Warriors,

Peace be with you and yours! Did you know there is a week promoting marriage?  It starts this Wednesday, February 7 and concludes on Valentines Day, February 14. National Marriage Week USA “is a collaborative campaign to strengthen individual marriages, reduce the divorce rate, and build a culture that fosters strong marriages.” On it’s website you will find tips, seminars, DVDS, and various other resources to strengthen your marriage.

Feel like your marriage is sleepwalking?

“Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”  Ephesians 14:5

Do something good for your marriage each day. Begin with prayer, because every day that begins with prayer is a good one. Pray that the Lord teach you and your spouse how to have a holy and Godly marriage. It begins with Him. Ask the Lord to illuminate your mind as you meditate on the following scripture:

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word, that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. So [also] husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “For this reason a man shall leave [his] father and [his] mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” Ephesians 5:25-31

Lord, without you we stumble, fall, and become discouraged. Reboot and re-energize our desire to have a strong and holy marriage. Bless all those who read this and meet them exactly where they are. Extricate them from selfish desires and show them the power of Love. Encourage, guide, and unify them. Make them one, holy and pleasing in your sight.

If there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing. Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but [also] everyone for those of others. Philippians 21-4

Peace, Joy, and Love,

We can change the culture of marriage one yes at a time. Say “yes!” to Him and “I will!” to your spouse!  Then keep praying and pass it on...not just once but all week long!!

Friday, February 2, 2018

Pray for Families (Ponder These Things)

Greetings Prayer Warriors,

Have you ever been surprised by the path the Lord has set you upon? Did you imagine your life’s journey might be different? Perhaps you have unfulfilled dreams for yourself, your marriage, or your family? You are not alone.

If you are prone to complaining or at least murmuring under your breath, stop for a moment to contemplate the life of Jesus’s beloved mother, Mary. She was asked to conceive out of wedlock, while having her virginity untouched.  Her husband was chosen for her, yet she would have no relations with him. She would go into labor while out of town, and Joseph would have to tell his very pregnant wife there were no lodging vacancies. She would give birth among the animals, and use a feeding trough for a crib. Yet, her faith was unwavering. 40 days later she and Joseph would journey to Jerusalem, only to be stunned again.

Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce)* so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” Luke 2:34-35

Did she know this would be part of her “yes”? That she would be a witness to and participant in Christ’s redemptive suffering? 

Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.  Luke 2:19

Did she ever imagine she and Joseph would have to flee to Egypt in the dark of night to save her son from Herod? Did she anticipate a young Jesus would wander from the caravan and they would not find him for days? Had the thought ever crossed her mind, that she would lose her husband, provider, and protector and be a widow raising her son alone? All this, yet there would be more…

Mary never complained she just pondered the ways of the Lord. Immersed in contemplative prayer she found strength and peace. We have a lot to learn from Mary’s example of faith, humility, and perseverance. Hers was a life of self-giving love, magnifying the Lord.

Lord, on behalf of our family, loved ones, and self, help us grow in the virtues that Mary so faithfully mirrored. Give us the grace to faithfully walk the path you chose for us and to live a life magnifying the Lord, praising Him in word and action, regardless of the difficulty of our journey. In you, all things are possible!

Peace, Joy, and Love,

Prayer is a renewing respite during life’s journey, best when you pass it on!  

Monday, January 29, 2018

Pray for Marriages (Renouncing Demons)

Greetings Prayer Warriors,

Stories can really have an impact. They cause a strong response, either positive or negative.  Consider this one from scripture:

The LORD sent Nathan to David, and when he came to him, he said: “Tell me how you judge this case: In a certain town there were two men, one rich, the other poor. The rich man had flocks and herds in great numbers. But the poor man had nothing at all except one little ewe lamb that he had bought. He nourished her, and she grew up with him and his children. Of what little he had she ate; from his own cup she drank; in his bosom she slept; she was like a daughter to him. Now, a visitor came to the rich man, but he spared his own flocks and herds to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him: he took the poor man’s ewe lamb and prepared it for the one who had come to him.” 2 Samuel 12:1-4

Your reaction? Here was David’s.

David grew very angry with that man and said to Nathan: “As the LORD lives, the man who has done this deserves death! 2 Samuel 12:5

Then Nathan said to David: “You are the man! 2 Samuel 12:7

David had slept with his faithful servant’s wife, Bathsheba and she subsequently became pregnant.  To cover his sin, he then sent her husband, Uriah, to the front line of the battlefield, ensuring his death.

How easy is it is to look at the evil of others versus our own. Do you have any hidden shame? Actions taken or words said prior to or during your marriage? Have you buried your missteps deep inside, portraying perfection on the outside? Is it affecting your relationship with your spouse, acting as a subtle poison, a demon within?

“For his part, the LORD has removed your sin. You shall not die.  
2 Samuel 12:13

How merciful is our God! While David paid a price for his sin, the Lord forgave him. Because God loves all his children, he wants to heal your pain too. In humility and repentance, express your sorrow before the Lord. Ask him to take away your anxiety, fear, shame, and self-loathing.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me! Psalm 51:10

Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

Peace, Joy, and Love,

Forgive yourself and ask for God’s mercy.  Then pray for all marriages and pass it on!  

Friday, January 26, 2018

Pray for Families (Real Pleasure)

Greetings Prayer Warriors,

I’m in Vegas and frankly it’s a bit overwhelming. Scents and sounds are everywhere, all part of the design to pull you in and stimulate your pleasure receptors. People throng to places where they feel they can enjoy themselves without judgment, because “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”. But fragrances and cadences that descend you into decadence truly aren’t good for the soul. 

I probed with my mind how to beguile my senses with wine and take up folly, until I should understand what is good for human beings to do under the heavens during the limited days of their lives. But when I turned to all the works that my hands had wrought, and to the fruit of the toil for which I had toiled so much, see! all was vanity and a chase after wind. There is no profit under the sun. Ecclesiastes 2:3,11

Conversely, “Smells and bells,” references to incense used during Mass and the bells announcing both the descent of the Holy Spirit and the transubstantiation of the bread and wine, are used to awaken your senses to the holy. They are to awaken you to the miracle at hand and the love that Jesus has for us. The beautiful art within the church is to draw you in to the holy scenes they represent.  The light streaming through the stained glass reflecting a kaleidoscope of colors is to give you a glimpse of the heavenly realm. If we are receptive to all that awaits us here, then our pleasure will be immense.

I probed with my mind how to beguile my senses with wine and take up folly, until I should understand what is good for human beings to do under the heavens during the limited days of their lives. But when I turned to all the works that my hands had wrought, and to the fruit of the toil for which I had toiled so much, see! all was vanity and a chase after wind. There is no profit under the sun. Ecclesiastes 2:3,11

We haven’t addressed the fear of being judged by others though. Perhaps we prefer to judge instead.  This is where we all need help. A church is its people, and if it’s people are judgmental, who would want to flock there? We are to love as Christ has loved us and forgive as Christ has forgiven. Leave the judgment seat to God!

Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you?  2 Corinthians 13:5

As for Catholics, you have a fount of grace awaiting you in the confessional. What’s said in the confessional stays in the confessional! It’s the counterpoint to Vegas!

Lord, help each of us and each member of our family to make good choices each day. When we go astray, help us to right ourselves.May we love others rather than sit in judgment. Help us to forgive ourselves as well. May we encourage and assist those who derail and love them back to you. You are the pleasure, joy, and happiness we seek. Give us the wisdom to understand that. Amen.

I, the LORD, have called you for justice, I have grasped you by the hand; I formed you, and set you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations. Isaiah 42:6

Peace, Joy, and Love,

True pleasure, a lasting treasure, is only found in Him. Pass it on!