The Written Prayers of Others for Others

Years ago at a church we served in western Kentucky I wanted to express my love for the members of the congregation by praying for individuals and families. I prepared a letter to send to each family. It was probably my first time to choose to do this. I had finished a study on praying scripture. When I wrote the letter, I chose Ephesians 3:14-21 as my pattern for praying for these folks. God had placed some on my heart that I especially needed intercession. These were not necessarily suffering physically. These were the ones who were the angry, the bristling, the apathetic, the folks with critical minds and tongues and the last ones who would ever admit to needing or wanting prayer. Nevertheless, I wanted Terry and I to pray for ALL, even those who seemed to be doing just fine. In the letter I wrote out the scripture inserting the appropriate name where ‘you’ occurred in the verses.

While on vacation, we took time each day to pray these exact words. The experience changed me. You would think, or I did that it would become repetitive but amazingly it did not. Picturing the people in my mind, reading the words, inserting their names focused me and even expanded my prayers for them. In a way we took the whole congregation with us on vacation.

So if you are setting out to write down prayers and want to intercede for others for their needs, wants, health, finances, relationships I suggest write down this passage and start with it as a jumping off point. I think you will find it frees you to pray more completely for others.

“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,

and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭3:14-21‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Additionally, I found this beautiful intercessions prayer, one that can be committed to memory and prayed whenever for whoever.

And from my own heart and hands:

Lord God Almighty, May those I love and those I have trouble loving be equally blessed and come to know you more fully today.  May the ones who are home and the ones who are wandering and lost be under the shadow of your wings today.  For my soldier and all the others with him, I give you thanks for the completion of an enormous trek.  God hold those who minister your word through out the world be emboldened today.  You Lord can do more than I would ever even ask so let your power and strength rain down today and give me wisdom to know when to speak and when to keep my big mouth shut.  Let me grow in kindness and grace. Amen

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The Written Prayer: Day 2, Sanctuary and Light

Awakening this morning one of my favorite praise and worship songs filled my head. You probably have had similar experiences when a lyric or melody or both get stuck refusing to depart. Sometimes this is a pleasant occurrence while others are just plain annoying. Today I am happy to say was the former. The song? Sanctuary. Perhaps you know the chorus…admittedly that is all I know. There are verses, but I have no recollection of them.

Lord, Prepare me to be a Sanctuary
Pure and Holy, tried and true
With Thanksgiving I’ll be a living
Sanctuary for You.

Yesterday, I shared my thoughts on written prayers. Both praying already written prayers and also writing down my own prayers as I pray. Worry not! I do not intend to take out pen and paper while I am driving, which I find to be a prime time in my life for prayer. I am hoping to expand my prayer life with this intentional act during my quiet time with the Lord. With ‘Sanctuary’ brain streaming, a written prayer set to music, and a mighty prayer from The Book of Common Prayer, I enter into the presence of the Lord with these words, some mine, some others’

Lord God Almighty, I open the doors of my inner most being, a place that is often dark, hidden from view, a place I do not like to dwell in out of shame or fear. Nothing is hidden from you, but still I vainly attempt or stubbornly refuse to allow your Spirit access. Lord, with the song running through my head I knew you were calling me yet again to clean out yet another cubby hole of sin in me…Lord, there are so many…, so that indeed I could become a Sanctuary, a person to whom others could come and receive grace, communion, and peace. Father, let me bask in the light of your forgiveness and love, soak it up, and then squeeze it out in like measure to others. I praise you that I am ‘fearfully and wonderfully’ made, that I am accepted, and that You have a plan for my life. Let me see those very attributes in others, especially those I have the least propensity to follow through with. Sweep me clean, ‘come and scatter the darkness’, letting the light of your presence draw others to your sanctuaries and Lord, prepare me to be one. Prepare my heart now to bring to you intercessions for others. Teach me how to pray for each one by the light of your presence. Amen.

The Power of the Written Prayer in My Life

Only recently, by that I mean in the last several years have I come to appreciate prayers that have been written by others hundreds, even thousands of years before I                Ever needed them.  Perhaps it was my upbringing.  In the family of faith I grew up in, aside from the Lord’s Prayer, “Our Father”, we were encouraged to speak to God from our own hearts, not simply recite or depend on the prayers of old to guide our way.  I understand and accept this, but know now that the hymns we sing are another’s prayer. The prayers of the saints who have gone before us emerged from their hearts not some desire to have others recite them for years to come.  The Bible is filled with powerful prayers, many I now use in whole or in part when praying.  What prayer, indeed, could be more in tune with the will of God in my life or in the lives of those I pray for than the Word of God.

This discovery of written prayer as a comfort, as a help when they express exactly the needs of my heart, as a guide as to how to pray, has expanded my prayer life rather than narrowed it to an action of meer repetition of words.  Now I find myself writing prayers myself as I pray.  As I did this, I began to respond to prayer requests on Facebook with whatever tumbled out of my heart and into the post.  I did not do this without fear,  for words once written cannot be easily amended.  What if my words offended or fell short of the need?  What if?  What if?  What if?

Then it hit me.  WHO was the audience to whom I was writing?  The one who requested the prayers?  The others who would respond or read the comments?  OR, was I writing a letter to God Almighty on behalf of another?  Once I considered these questions, the realization became clearer,  first I had to get my motivation for intercession in line with God.  So, I pray, Lord, let the words of my mouth, the words I write, and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in YOUR SIGHT.

Second, I have learned writing prayers of intercession fills me with even more awe at how God is transforming my prayer life by showing me how praying in the moment a request comes through keeps me faithful.   Although,  I still respond with ‘praying’ or ‘prayers’, writing a prayer right then makes sure I follow through with my promise.

So I am thankful to the saints before me who have written their prayers for me to pray.  I am exploring the power of prayer that might come if I write more prayers down as I come to my quiet time with God.  So in keeping with that, Today I pray:

Lord, the rain is falling and I am clearly aware that we are only getting a smidgen of the rain that been dumped on South Texas this week by Hurricane Harvey.  I lift those people who have lost so much, even loved ones and pets to you.  Hold them close and bring them through this stronger than before.  For those who serve these refugees of the storm, I pray strength, courage, and provisions.  For my grandson in FTX, his squad, his platoon, the three other platoons, I pray the power of your Holy Spirit to be alive in them as they press onward to the goal before them.. Let those of us who wait to hear from them ‘light the way’ with our candles and porch lights and mostly with our prayers.  Lord, for those we know who are recovering from surgery, dealing with infection and illness, for those old folks like us who are weary today after work yesterday I pray that you would renew our strength, heal our bodies, and let us rise up to serve each other with Love.  I praise you for the rain!  I praise you for the blessing of this new day!  Forgive me my sins for they are many and I am trusting that you will.  Set me on the right path and give me the wisdom I need for this day.   Through Christ our Lord, Amen.  And Lord, please protect the momma cat and her kittens who are hiding under our shed….just asking…Amen

This beautiful prayer comes from the Episcopal Church Facebook Page…a favorite site of mine for prayers.

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Fear Not, Love All, Don’t Give Objects Power

Hatred
End product of fear
Seeds scattered on the winds
Seeking soil readied by the rhetoric
Of discord, no one truly safe
From its sprouting–

for all of us stew over something unfair–

For in our brokenness we will fear what we do not understand

or what threatens

or offends

nor are we beyond 
Becoming a conduit of proliferation of fear

Because we want others to see the danger

or offense, or injustice, or to fear what we fear 

and nurture that fear until it morphs into either quivering in a corner

sure THEY are out to get US or into a RAGE that topples anything or anyone

even remotely identified as THEY.

Fear the Bible says is the opposite of Love
While also saying the fear of God is the
Beginning of wisdom and that God casts
Out all fear of anything that is not love

For God is Love.

So if I fear God
Will that fear not bring forth
A harvest of hatred for all misplaced fear
That points fingers, throws sticks and stones,
Or bullets or angry words or destroys property,
Or drives a vehicle into human beings intent
On the destruction of others created in God’s image
Or gives the idols carved by human hands POWER
To turn people’s fears into actions

that should
Make all of us like the five year old child
Watching the violence on the news, recoil and scream
‘Make them stop! Where are their Mommy’s? Where are their Daddy’s’
Where indeed?

Seeds of fear scattered on the winds
Find places to root and grow
When I fail to fear God
Who says Love others, even those who
Have let fear grow into
Hatred.

BAREFOOT BOOK CLUB: SUMMER, 2017: SO MANY BOOKS SO LITTLE TIME


School
 is back in session here in Western Kentucky.  I love this time of year, although I recall it used to start in September.  I may have mentioned, I loved going to school!  I loved it so much that I was still going until I was almost 35 years old and then my husband went back to school, so I lived the dream vicariously through him until he finished seminary, through my children–hockey, football games, marching band contests and parades, through my grandchildren, soccer, baseball, essays, cheerleading, basketball.

Summer is drawing to a close.  Teachers somewhere are assigning written essays.  So here I am looking back on what I read this summer.  You know the old saying, “A Day without a Book is….something I have no clue about.’  Reading has taken me everywhere, made me a time traveler, captured and held me in awe.  SO

WHAT HAVE I READ THIS SUMMER? 

Dis

Fiction:

1. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Perfume River, Butler—By far the best fiction book I read this summer. The author is a professor of creative writing at Florida State University. His capture of generational family dynamics and the decisions made, the words spoken and the secrets kept beginning with the protagonist facing his nightmares of Hue, Vietnam and his father’s imminent death delivers an emotional wallop…but then there is homeless Bob and the protagonist’s brother who defied their father escaping to Canada to avoid the draft. Complex, but aren’t all families. Terry and I had deep discussions about this book and the characters which were delightful.

2. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️The Chilbury Ladies Choir, Jennifer Ryan—A book set in 1940 Great Britain as men march off to war and women are left to carry on and support the war effort. Told by different characters from young to mature in a series of letters and journal entries. The only WW2 book I read this summer, believe it or not. Terry loved this one also.

3. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️A Murder in Time, Julie McElwain

4. ⭐️⭐️⭐️The Practice House, Laura McNeal  

5. ⭐️⭐️⭐️The Book of Polly, Kathy Hepinstall

 

 

 

Books in an established series: Suggest that if you want to read any of these author’s series that you start with earlier book in the series. I highly recommend any of these authors but especially Nesbo, Iles, and Silva, but I enjoy all of them.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️The Thirst, Jo Nesbo–Norwegian author–First book in Harry Hole Series is THE BAT

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Mississippi Blood, Third book in a trilogy set in and around Natchez, MS, Greg iles First Book in this trilogy is NATCHEZ BURNING, but Penn Cage, the protagonist and his family are in earlier Iles Books.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Garden of Lamentations, a Duncan Kincaid and Gemma Jones Novel, Deborah Crombie

⭐️⭐️⭐️The Likeness, Dublin Police Squad 2, Tana French

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️House of Spies, Daniel Silva

 

 

 

Non-Fiction:  Devotional, Inspirational, Memoir

⭐️⭐️Hallelujah Anyway. Anne LaMott

 

Audio books: What we have listened to in the car—Listed in order of preference. Highly recommend any of these. Good stories, Good narrators

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️🌟Beneath the Scarlet Sky, Mark Sullivan—A large portion of this book is fact taken from interviews with some of the principals and also much research by the author, some that went on after the book was completed. Some of it is the author’s imagining of conversations, transitions, etc. Once again a little known story of heroism, war, and love. Well worth listening to or reading. It is set in Italy beginning in May 1944 in the city of Milan. Mussolini has lost his grip on Italy and lives with his mistress in a fortress castle protected by the Nazis who have invaded and placed what they hold of Italy under German military law. The Allies are invading south and at the beginning of the book the first Allied assault of Milan from the skies occurs. Pino Lela is a 17 year old boy who loves music, women, and movies. His heroism saved multiple lives, but could not save all the ones he loved. Worth the listen or the read.

From Amazon: A Goodreads Best Book of the Month

“Exciting…taut thriller…Beneath a Scarlet Sky tells the true story of one young Italian’s efforts to thwart the Nazis.” —Shelf Awareness

“Meticulous research highlights this World War II novel of a youth growing into manhood…a captivating read…” —RT Book Reviews

“An incredible story, beautifully written, and a fine and noble book.” —James Patterson, New York Times bestselling author

“Sprawling, stirring, like the richest of stories, and played out on a canvas of heroism and tragedy, Beneath a Scarlet Sky is like one of those iconic World War II black and white photos: a face of hope and tears, the story of a small life that ended up mattering in a big way.” —Andrew Gross, New York Times bestselling author of The One Man

“Action, adventure, love, war, and an epic hero—all set against the backdrop of one of history’s darkest moments—Mark Sullivan’s Beneath a Scarlet Sky has everything one can ask for in an exceptional World War II novel.” —Tess Gerritsen, New York Times bestselling author of Playing with Fire

“This is full-force Mark Sullivan—muscular, soulful prose evincing an artist’s touch and a journalist’s eye. Beneath a Scarlet Sky conjures an era with a magician’s ease, weaving the rich tapestry of a wartime epic. World War II Italy has never been more alive to me.” —Gregg Hurwitz, New York Times bestselling author of The Nowhere Man

“Beneath a Scarlet Sky has everything—heroism, courage, terror, true love, revenge, compassion in the face of the worst human evils. Sullivan shows us war as it really is, with all its complexities, conflicting loyalties, and unresolved questions, but most of all, he brings us the extraordinary figure of Pino Lella, whose determination to live con smania—with passion—saved him.” —Joseph Finder, New York Times bestselling author of Suspicion

 

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Home, Matt Dunn

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️The Woman on the Orient Express, Jayne Lindsey Ashford–fictionalized account of Agatha Christie’s journey on the Orient Express after her mysterious disappearance and divorce from Archie..an excellent listen and sent me searching out more about Agatha.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️The Lake House, Kate Morton

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Camino Island, John Grisham

⭐️⭐️⭐️The Ladies Room, Carolyn Brown

⭐️⭐️⭐️The Late Show, Michael Connelly

Terry and I joined a book club—Listed in order read for Book Club

1. MAY—Victoria, A Novel of a Young Queen, Daisy Goodwin—Historical Fiction Excellent account of a young queen and her relationship with her Prime Minister and later with the man who would be her husband….also a PBS series.

2. JUNE—⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💥🌟The Killing of the Flower Moon, David Grann—Nonfiction History—NUMBER ONE for this summer. If you come from Oklahoma which I do, you were required back in the day, at least as far back as my daughter’s day, to take Oklahoma History to graduate from high school. I SWEAR I made an A in that class and yet never knew this bit of history. I lived in Tulsa, OK 27 years before we moved to Kentucky….Tulsa County butts up against Osage County, the Osage Hills. In the early part of the 20th Century the Osage Indians were the wealthiest people per capita in the world. Oil, black gold and the fore thought to retain all rights to underground reservation, made those with head rights and their descendants wealthy. Sometime in the early 1920’s mysterious deaths began to wipe out whole families. Enter J. Edgar Hoover and his new FBI to investigate. A conspiracy that reached enormous proportions began to be uncovered. This book grabbed me from the beginning but it took Terry a little longer to get into it. Nevertheless, he loved it. As he closed the book, he looked over at me and said, ‘It was genocide and no one ever told me about this.’

From Amazon:  An Amazon Best Book of April 2017: In the 1920s, the Osage found themselves in a unique position among Native Americans tribes. As other tribal lands were parceled out in an effort by the government to encourage dissolution and assimilation of both lands and culture, the Osage negotiated to maintain the mineral rights for their corner of Oklahoma, creating a kind of “underground reservation.” It proved a savvy move; soon countless oil rigs punctured the dusty landscape, making the Osage very rich. And that’s when they started dying.

You’d think the Osage Indian Reservation murders would have been a bigger story, one as familiar as the Lindbergh kidnapping or Bonnie and Clyde. It has everything, but at scale: Execution-style shootings, poisonings, and exploding houses drove the body count to over two dozen, while private eyes and undercover operatives scoured the territory for clues. Even as legendary and infamous oil barons vied for the most lucrative leases, J. Edgar Hoover’s investigation – which he would leverage to enhance both the prestige and power of his fledgling FBI – began to overtake even the town’s most respected leaders.
Exhuming the massive amount of detail is no mean feat, and it’s even harder to make it entertaining. But journalist David Grann knows what he’s doing. With the same obsessive attention to fact – in service to storytelling – as The Lost City of Z, Killers of the Flower Moon reads like narrative-nonfiction as written by James M. Cain (there are, after all, insurance policies involved): smart, taut, and pacey. Most sobering, though, is how the tale is at once unsurprising and unbelievable, full of the arrogance, audacity, and inhumanity that continues to reverberate through today’s headlines. –Jon Foro, The Amazon Book Review
Review
“The best book of the year so far.”
—Entertainment Weekly

“A marvel of detective-like research and narrative verve.”
—Financial Times

“A shocking whodunit…What more could fans of true-crime thrillers ask?”
—USA Today

“A master of the detective form…Killers is something rather deep and not easily forgotten.”
—Wall St. Journal

“Extraordinary”
—Time Magazine

 

3. JULY—The Other Einstein, Marie Benedict—Historial Fiction Do you know about the first Mrs. Albert Einstein, who was also a brilliant physicist and who probably contributed the mathematics for the 1905 Einstein paper that eventually won him the Nobel Prize?

4. AUGUST—A Thousand White Women, Jim Fergus –Period Fiction

 

I have read a couple of others, but these are the ones that stand out.  SO tell me.  I am always looking for a new read or listen, WHAT HAVE YOU READ THIS SUMMER?

A few others I have read since returning to KY from FL

A Tribute to Courage In the Fire: Ima Lee Gee Pierce

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Last December, only days from her 45th birthday, our niece, Ima Lee slipped from this world to the next.  She did not go quietly or without a fight.  She fought cancer with every force offered and from a powerful will to live.  Her life as a whole not just the few years she battled cancer, but the whole of it prepared her.

img_3753On December 1, 1971, before her first birthday, her Dad died in an automobile crash outside Tinker Field in Oklahoma where he was reporting for a duty assignment.  Her mother, Kaye, my husband’s sister and my beloved sister-in-law died of cancer on August 25, 1987 shy of her 41st birthday, when Ima Lee was 16.  She became a single mother and the birth of Chassity gave her a clarity of purpose that had eluded her as she struggled to make sense of her life.  Make no mistake SHE loved that child, now a beautiful accomplished young wife and mother.  Her fierce love for her child led her to the Man who would become her husband and Chassity’s father, Clark Pierce.  She enlisted and served in the United States Airforce, like her father before her.  Following her service they settled in Missouri to raise the child they loved.

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Over the years marked by misunderstanding and geographical distances we had fallen out of touch with Ima Lee and her family, but Thanks be to God we got the opportunity to reconnect and reconcile.  Terry even got the honor of officiating at Chassity and Danny’s wedding in August 2012 in Gatlinburg, TN.  We were blessed to be able to help in some small way getting her to some of her doctor appointments and chemotherapy treatments.  Our gratefulness for that time with her and Clark cannot be measured.  We came to love her and her family deeply and that love continues as we follow Chassity and her family on Facebook.

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LIfe here is full of pitfalls, fires, and storms.  Life here is full of beauty, laughter, and mountaintop experiences.  Life here offers opportunities to come together or to tear apart….CHOOSE TOGETHER.  Ima Lee’s Life taught me that the test of our strength and our faith GROWS when we embrace the people we love and fight for every moment with them….even that we will be united in heaven.

God Bless Clark, Chass, Danny, and Owen as they mark this time when they said “Good by, See you Later.”  Love to you all.img_4329

Keeping Christ in Christmas: A Remembrance and a Story

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Several years ago, maybe close to 15 or 20, our Sunday School Class gathered for a Christmas party at the home of Wayne and Judy Stokes outside Pembroke.  As always, we ate, talked, laughed enjoying each other’s company and thoughts of Christmas.  Near the end of the party, Randa Luttrull brought out a basket filled with oranges.  She gave each of us one and then she told the following story, which I googled today so that I would get it correct:

Jake was nine years old and for as long as he could remember he lived within the walls of an orphanage. He was one of ten children supported by what meager contributions the orphan home could obtain in donations from local townspeople.

Throughout the year there was very little to eat, but at Christmas there always seemed to be a little bit more than usual. The orphanage seemed a bit warmer and there was time for holiday enjoyment. But most importantly there was the Christmas orange!

Christmas was the only time of year that such a rare treat was provided and it was treasured by each child. They each enjoyed their very own orange and prized it as they slowly savored each juicy section. It was truly the light of their Christmas and the best gift of the season. Jake had been looking forward to his Christmas orange all year long!

On Christmas Eve, Jake somehow managed to track a small amount of mud from his shoes onto the new carpet in the orphanage. He didn’t even notice it had happened. But it was too late and there was nothing he could do to avoid punishment. The punishment was swift and grim. Jake would not be allowed his Christmas orange! It was the only gift he would have received from the harsh world he lived in. Now, after a year of waiting, it would be denied him.

Tearfully Jake pleaded that he be forgiven, but to no avail. He felt hopeless and totally rejected. Jake cried into his pillow all that night and spent Christmas Day feeling empty and alone. He felt that the other children didn’t want to be with a boy who had received such a cruel punishment. Perhaps they feared he would ruin their only day of happiness. Maybe, he reasoned, the gulf between him and his friends existed because they feared he would ask for a little of each of their oranges. Jake spent the day upstairs, alone, in the unheated dormitory. Huddled under his only blanket, he read about a family marooned on an island. Jake wouldn’t mind spending the rest of his life on an isolated island, if he could only have a real family that cared about him.

Bedtime came but Jake couldn’t sleep. How could he say his prayers? How could there be a God in Heaven that would allow a little soul such as he, to suffer so much all by himself? Silently he sobbed as he prayed for the future of mankind, that God might end the suffering in the world, both for himself and all others like him.

As Jake climbed back into bed from the cold, hard floor, a soft hand touched his shoulder, startling him momentarily. He was surprised when an object was silently placed in his hands. The giver disappeared into the darkness, leaving Jake with what, he did not immediately know!

Looking closely at the object in his hand in the dim light, he saw what looked like an orange! Not a regular orange, smooth and shiny, but a very special orange. Inside a patched together peel were segments of nine other oranges. Together they made one whole orange for Jake! The nine other children in the orphanage had each donated one segment of their own precious orange to make a whole orange for Jake.

In my head today, if I allow myself to go there, I can still hear Randa’s alto voice telling the story.  At the end she held up an orange like the one Jake received, patched together and yet whole. I have never forgotten how entwined I became with the story and how deeply moved I was by the woman who told it.  I saw Randa’s generous, caring heart over the years, but for me seeing her face and hearing her voice as she told this story captured a moment of transparency and love that has stayed with me.

I feel certain that she is rejoicing in heaven with our Lord.  I also feel certain that her legacy of kindness and grace will live on in her family and closest friends.  May we all be generous and loving with each other this Christmas and in the year to come.