Prayers I Still Pray, Part II

As I mentioned yesterday, prayer after loss is complicated for me.  I wrote a post months ago The Problem of [Un]Answered Prayer that addressed this.

But I AM able to pray Scripture-especially the prayers of Paul, which are centered on asking God to strengthen others and to expand their understanding of His love, compassion, power and grace.

Here are two more that I find helpful:

Philippians 1:9-11

phil 1_9 feet

I pray

  • that ___’s love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight,
  • that___may be able to discern what is best, and
  • that____may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ,
  • that___will be filled with the fruit of righteousness through Jesus Christ-to the glory and praise of God.

 

Colossians 1:9-12

Father, I pray

  • that You will fill___with the knowledge of Your will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding,
  • that___may live a life worthy of You, Lord,
  • that____may please You in every way,
  • that___will bear fruit in every good work,
  • that___will grow in the knowledge of You,
  • that___will be strengthened with all power according to Your glorious might,
  • that___may have great endurance and patience,
  • that___will joyfully give thanks to You, Father, who has qualiied them to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.

Today by Your Spirit make real all their inheritance in Christ Jesus.

col 1_9

Prayers I Still Pray

Prayer has been difficult for me since burying a child-I’ve written about that struggle in a previous post.

I have yet to find a comprehensible way to think about both the sovereignty of God and His goodness, free will and predestination.

So I find myself incapable of praying for things like safety for my children, freedom from disease or specific outcomes in difficult circumstances.

Instead I pray the prayers of Paul, straight from Scripture-prayers that focus on expanding a person’s understanding of Who God is, how much he or she is loved by God and the development of godly fruit in his or her life.

THESE are prayers I can still pray, I hope they are helpful for others in similar circumstances.

Ephesians 1:17-23

Glorious Father, I thank you for_______, and I bless them. I ask You to give _____the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that ______may know You better.  Enlighten the eyes of ______’s heart, so that they may know

  • the hope to which You have called them,
  • the riches of Your glorious inheritance in the saints,
  • And Your incomparably great power for them because they believe, the power of the resurrection and the ascension which seated Jesus at Your right hand where He is above all rule and authority, and power and dominion in this world, and all things are under His feet.

Fill ____with all the fullness of Jesus in every way today.

ephesians 1_17

Ephesians 3:15-20

I call You Father, and I pray

  • that from Your glorious riches You will strengthen______with power through Your Spirit in their inner being,
  • that Christ may dwell in ______’s heart through faith,
  • that ____will be rooted and established in love,
  • that____may have power, with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,
  • that ____will know this love that surpasses knowledge,
  • that___will be filled to the measure of the fullness of God.

I give You all the glory, for You are able to do immeasurably more than all I ask or imagine, according to Your power that is working within us.

ephesian320

 

 

Retreat

As a kid our family made a yearly pilgrimage to the Gulf Coast-back when the beaches were wide open vistas, the water see-through green and the days long and unhurried.

We didn’t spend money on the “attractions” or tourist trap souvenir shops-we got up early to watch the sun rise and spent the remainder of the day back and forth between the beach and the water.

I loved to find a spot that was about waist deep and feel the waves move across my body-up and down, up and down-floating in rhythm to the world’s heartbeat.

But every so often a wave would surprise me, crash over my head unannounced and break the cycle of gentle rocking with a sputter-inducing plunge beneath the salty sea.

As long as the giant waves were few and far between, I could recover, regather my sense of well-being and continue to enjoy the water.

But when the first wave marked a change in the tide or an incoming storm and was followed by more and more of the same, I knew it was time to move toward shore.

I could withstand one or two of these but if there was no chance to catch my breath in between I was going under.

This past week has been a deluge of waves.

Waves of grief,

waves of regret,

waves of disappointment,

waves of discouagement.

No storm clouds on the horizon.  No major life events or grief anniversaries-just a turning of the tide.

And so I find myself retreating a bit.

Backtracking from progress I thought I had made. Retracing steps and repeating cycles I though I had left behind.

I suspect that most of us have weeks like this.

You don’t have to bury a child to beg Jesus to make things whole again-to bring hope to your heart again-to ask Him to calm the storm and save you from destruction.

Ebb and flow.  Waves and calm.  Storms and sunshine.  Life is made up of all of these.

I am confident that Jesus is the Peace-speaker.  He can calm the wind and the waves.

I want to have faith.  I want to learn to call out in trust and not doubt.

I’m working on that and waiting for His Spirit to work on it in me.

But as I wait, I’m going to have to sit on shore for awhile.

 

 

 

It Changes Everything

Part of the reason I share my story is to provide insight for people who haven’t lost a child into the hearts and lives of those who have.

But mainly it is to be a voice for and to encourage other parents walking this valley by letting them know they aren’t alone, their feelings and experiences are perfectly normal and that just as welcoming a child into your family is a life-altering event, saying good-bye to a child is a life-altering event. 

We do not expect a mom to “get over” the changes having a baby brings to her everyday experience, and we should not expect a  bereaved mom to “get over” the changes burying one brings either.

Want to help?  Read:  Loving the Grieving Heart

Monday Musings: Mercy

A precious sister-in-loss created this image.

It’s my theme song.

And the message of my heart.

Ever since I read The Merchant of Venice in high school, I’ve been captivated by the idea of mercy.

I had heard the word used in church, heard it exclaimed- “Mercy me!”-and even looked it up in the dictionary.

But it was Portia’s famous speech that lodged in my mind and touched my heart:

The quality of mercy is not strained;

It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven

Upon the place beneath.  It is twice blest;

It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:

‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes

The throned monarch better than his crown:

His scepter shows the force of temporal power,

The attribute of awe and majesty,

Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;

But mercy is above this sceptered sway;

It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,

It is an attribute to God Himself;

And earthly power doth then show likest God’s

When mercy seasons justice.

~Portia, The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare

Later, when I studied Scripture as an adult, I found the theme of  God’s mercy repeated over and over again in the story of His people and His working through them to bring redemption and restoration to a broken world.

It hurts my heart when I see mercy relegated to a list as a “gift of the Spirit” and those who don’t feel “gifted” in this area given a pass on demonstrating an essential aspect of God’s character to hurting hearts.

I am reminded of the story of the forgiven servant in  Matthew’s gospel (Matthew 18: 21-35).  Oh how the king rebuked him for having received mercy yet withholding it from another!

Then, after he had summoned him, his master said to him, ‘You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me.Shouldn’t you also have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’

Matthew 18: 32-33 HCSB

I believe that we who follow Jesus will be held to the same standard.

And if we can keep the vision of how much mercy has been poured out on our own hearts and in our own lives, it is so much easier to pour it out on others.  We don’t have to manufacture it-we only have to be a willing conduit of the mercy already overflowing from God’s heart to our own.

When the deputy delivered the news that Dominic was gone, my heart broke wide open, its contents spilled on the floor.

But  I knew it would not remain empty for long.

It would be filled with something.  

And I begged God to fill it so full of love, grace and mercy that bitterness, unforgiveness and anger would be squeezed out with no room to stay.

I feel that He has been faithful to honor that prayer.

It is because of the Lord’s mercy and loving-kindness that we are not consumed, because His [tender] compassions fail not. ~Lamentations 3:22 AMPC

lamentations-3-22-23

Worship with Abandon

Susie’s dad was my pastor years ago in Aurora, Colorado-I learned much from her parents and am now delighted to follow her blog.

Susie Stewart

Shout!

If you feel like it

Sing

If you feel like it

Whisper

If you feel like it

Bow

If you feel like it

Stand

If you feel like it

Dance!

If you feel like it…

Self,

Worship God with abandon!

Don’t just reserve your strong emotion

for things of this world

Nothing here should thrill you

like God!

May ALL that is within me

praise the Lord!

– Susie Stewart

O my soul, come, praise the Eternal
with all that is in me—body, emotions, mind, and will—every part of who I am—
praise His holy name.

– Psalm 103:1 (VOICE)

Bless the Lord, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!

– Psalm 103:1 (NKJV)

Praise the Lord!
Let all that I am praise the Lord.
I will praise the Lord as long as I live.
I will sing praises to my God with…

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Please-Just. Listen.

It’s hard-it’s hard to stay the words that come unbidden to mind and threaten to fly out of your mouth.

It takes restraint.  And patience.  And wisdom.

But when I finally open my locked box of hurt and pain and memories and heartache-please, please-just listen.

I know better than you that nothing anyone says, or does or hopes to do can change the facts.

Dominic’s not here-he’s there.

And I also know that makes you feel helpless.  I feel helpless too.

I’m not looking for pity.  I don’t want attention.  I have no desire to make you sad.

I have to let it out or I’ll burst.  If others saw the fullness of emotions brimming in my heart they would stand amazed that I could push them down and keep them inside so much of the time.

But speaking my sorrow is empowering.  

It provides a witness.  It means that he matters, that I matter and that this awful reality is recognized by someone other than just me.

When you shut me down or shut me out I. am. crushed.

Again.

In the end, you can walk away.  You have another life to go back to.  My pain is tangential to the reality of your every day.

It is central to mine.

So, please-encourage my heart with compassionate presence and just listen.

presence best gift