PRAYING TO KNOW God’s will is a fundamental act of repentance. It is our way of saying to God, “I am willing to look at life from your point of view. I am willing to change my mind and heart and no longer look at life through the lens of my ego.”
That is where the formation of a discerning heart begins, where the gospel begins, where life (abundant and everlasting) begins. Discernment offers a powerful way to deny the lure of egotism and discover the life of God in our souls. It is simultaneously an act of defiance and an act of devotion. So, in the context of walking with a formed heart, we begin with repentance.
– Steve Harper
I HAVE OFTEN believed that a good analogy of letting go in the dying process is much like a trapeze artist. The flyer climbs the steps of the ladder and takes hold of the bar suspended between two ropes. This bar is a trapeze. Across the way is another person, the catcher, who hangs from another trapeze with his knees. His hands are free, reaching out and ready to catch the flyer. As the two artists swing back and forth, there comes a moment when the flyer lets go, suspended in midair. The flyer can do nothing to help himself or herself. It all depends on the catcher. Just as the flyer loses momentum, the catcher comes near and grabs the flyer with a sure and steady grip. All is well.
So it is when we die; we let go of all we are, even life itself. In the empty space of an unknown world, steady, nail-scarred hands reach out to grab us. We are the flyers, and God is the catcher. So our lives end with the prayer Jesus prayed as he breathed his last and went home to God: “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”
– Richard L. Morgan
PRAYER IS coming into the presence of the One who loves us all the time—more than our parents ever loved us even in the best of times—and waiting in that presence, merely being there in that presence.
That’s all. Coming and waiting and being there.
Prayer, you see, is a fellowship, a meeting, a merging.
You don’t even have to talk when you don’t want to or don’t know what to say. All you have to do is to become aware of the fellowship, to pay attention to it the way you would if you were with an ordinary friend. …
God accepts you in silence as well as in words. All you have to do is feel God’s love for you, and, when you feel it, respond in any way your heart wants. …
You do not pray in order to get something from God that God was going to give you anyway. You pray in order to feel God’s love and to give God your love.
– John Killinger
LISTENING FOR THE VOICE of God who is Love helps us defeat our fears. The Divine’s voice differs from the voice of our inner gremlin. We recognize God’s voice because it tells us we are loved and accepted as we are: trembling, anxious, and fearful creatures. God speaks as our Beloved, embracing us in a way that transforms us into new beings who are whole, beautiful, and loving.
The Holy One’s voice passionately urges us to love ourselves as God loves us—deeply, endlessly, with the yearning of one lover for another. If we listen to this voice with the ears of the heart, little by little we will have learned to love the frightened part of ourselves. Like a sculptor, we will have chipped away at the frozen fear to reveal the beautiful creation inside.
Thank God for perfect love that casts out all fear.
– Karla M. Kincannon
YOU MAY HAVE questions as to why we should teach stewardship to children. These questions usually come from people who view stewardship as a means for raising the budget. Here are reasons you can give them:
In today’s world children develop a sense of entitlement and dissatisfaction because of the materialistic messages that surround them. They can learn the difference between wants and needs and develop an attitude of gratitude.
The understanding that God loves us just the way we are and has given us all the gifts we need to share with others combats the commercial world’s message that we must buy, buy, buy in order to be accepted.
The ages between six and ten are the formidable years for development of attitudes of sharing. If sharing does not become their lifestyle, then they develop an attitude that, “The world owes me . . .” Instead, stewardship can teach them that we are blessed and happy to share our blessings.
For those who tell you that children have no money for stewardship, remind them that the average child today under the age of thirteen has $230 a year in disposable income. Over 500 million heads of households throughout the world have less money than that to spend on feeding and caring for their families.
Stewardship is more than money. Children can share their time and talents as well.
– Delia Halverson
IT IS EASY to avoid dealing with painful issues in our lives by saying that the time is not right. That allows us to push away (banish) the pain and the persons who have hurt us and to continue to deny that we have been hurt and are still hurting.
When is the right time? The right time is whenever we become aware that the pain from old wounds is leaking into today, interfering with life. That awareness is God calling to us, asking us if we want to be free and to move forward with our lives. If we do, God offers us a way to do so. It’s a process called forgiveness.
BLESSED GOD, I use this day as an occasion to look back upon the week I have lived. In doing so, I trace the footprints of your presence with me. I have seen you at work in the little things and the big things that have happened. I am particularly mindful of your goodness in relation to ( ). When I count my blessings, naming them one by one, it is wonderful to see all that you have done.
Set me free from the temptation to grovel in my failures and also save me from any presumptions that would keep me from taking them seriously. It is in the space between despair and pride that I need you to work most in my life.
And what I ask for myself, I ask for others, especially ( ). I ask all this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
– Steve Harper