Get Together

We check boxes to ensure that persons are just right for us, a good fit for our company, to ensure that they are who they claim to be. It’s a tight squeeze—most of who we are doesn’t make it in.

Praying About the Things You Don’t Want to Talk About

Prayer should never be an awkward conversation. No topic off limits. No taboos and no time limits. It shouldn’t require that I quote scripture to be heard or acknowledged.

Crossroads: I Doubt It

When I was a child, we always played a game called “I doubt it” when we went on vacation. It was a card game and the point was to be the person who got rid of all of their cards first.

Not Another Word

Suffering in secret, it’s not what Jesus did—not that he had a choice in the matter, but it’s what his followers do religiously. Many of us believe talking about pain and subsequent grief somehow takes away from God’s glory.

Good Talking to You

My prayer life has had its ups and downs, its verbal love feasts, its spats and silent treatments. But this is the nature of prayer, a catch-all for everything said and unsaid.

Prayer Is a Good Talking To

I want someone to pray for me. Because I cannot pray for myself. My own words have turned against me.

Praying for a New Year… Literally

Is it over yet? Are we there yet? I didn’t want to open my eyes until it was safe. Is the year 2020 gone?

What Am I Saying?

There is no formula for prayer. There is no right or wrong way to talk to God. Sure, address God with reverence even when yelling at the Divine. “My God!”

Just Keep Talking

What were we talking about? My sentences are running together like my days. I lose my train of thought midway, derailed by one thing or another that was going the other way.

What Can I Say?

I’m going down. Praying hands up, I am sinking into despair though you would never know. Hands up, I volunteer for this and that and this. “Sure.” “Of course.” “No problem.” “Absolutely.” “Got it!”

Who Am I Talking To?

We are now six months into a global pandemic due to COVID-19. I won’t venture to mention the death toll. It will be higher by the time you read this. Someone is on their deathbed now, taking their last breath.

How Do We Pray from Here?

Nearly 160,000 people have died in America due to COVID-19. So many names. Too many to name or write down on my prayer list.

Blah, Blah, Blah

How do you pray when life looks like gibberish, when so many words are running together—pandemic, police brutality, protest, Confederate monuments, masks—and you can’t make sense of any of it?

Praying with My Feet

On Memorial Day, George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American resident, was arrested by Minneapolis police for allegedly attempting to use a fake $20 bill at Cup Foods, a local store.

Praying During a Pandemic: Out of Our Hands

My hands are clean. I promise that I didn’t do this. I prayed for a slower pace, for the closing down of my private warehouse that manufactures speed.

Prayer and Hand Sanitizer Go Together: Praying During a Pandemic

Rub your hands together with me. I don’t doubt the power of prayer or hand sanitizer. I use both and my health is better for it.

Connections 04.19.2020: The Empowering Christ

Today’s passage contains one of my favorite images in the New Testament. It’s not the appearance of the risen Christ. It’s not him breathing the Holy Spirit upon his disciples.

Talking to God when God is a Part of the Problem

I know, I know. Gasp. “Blasphemy!” “I can’t believe you said that.” “And you call yourself a Christian?” Yes, I do. In fact, I am following in the footsteps of Jesus.

Assume the Position

Put your hands down. You are not under arrest. I am not a police officer and have no training in law enforcement. Perhaps, this wasn’t the best title but it does make my point: prayer is not a position.

A Prayer Resolution

This is not an aspiration. It is not something that you reach for and hope you achieve, not one of those cross-your-fingers-and-hope-it-works-out kind of things.

Your Kingdom Come

Founder of the Advent Project, William H. Peterson, wrote, “While there is scant hope of changing the culture around us, the Church need not be a fellow traveler.

Praying Room

Excuse me. I am going to need some wiggle room, a place to twist and turn, space to squirm under the hands of life’s circumstances. It is a tight squeeze.

Prayer is the Conversation of a Lifetime

Prayer is a fact of life. Like birth and death, puberty, pimples, and periods, marriage and those mid-life crises, there is prayer. If we are to make it through these moments, then we will need to pray.

Take a Step Back

Prayer is not a question and answer session, an exchange of whys for how this is all going to work out. Prayer is not God’s tell-all. It is not the time to corner God in our prayer closet and demand an explanation.

Say What?

When God knows it all and none of it makes sense to you, what do you pray? How do you respond when the posture of prayer doesn’t feel right?

What to Say When You Don’t Want to Open Your Mouth

At one time or another, I’ve said all of these things or some naïve but well-meaning version of them to family members and friends, church members and complete strangers. Forgive me.

May I Have Your Attention, Please?

The late poet Mary Oliver in an essay titled Upstream wrote, “Attention is the beginning of devotion.” She’s right. It begins, not on Sunday mornings, but before we get out of bed each day.

Pray Tell

American philosopher William James said of prayer, “Many reasons have been given why we should not pray, whilst others are given why we should. But in all this very little is said of the reason why we do pray.

Crossroads: Seeing Is Believing

Has something ever seemed too good to be true? Was it? Talk about a time when you didn’t believe something someone said until they showed you proof. Why didn’t you believe? Did the proof change your thinking?

The Praying Type

“I’m not the praying type.” This is what it boils down to when I ask some people about talking to God. These persons talk about prayer as if it is not for them.

God’s Grace in Change

We just finished cleaning out my grandmother’s house. Granny is 82 years old and has moved to my aunt’s house, ten hours away, because she can’t live by herself anymore.

Pray Like God Is Listening

“I don’t know what to say or where to begin.” This is a frequent response when I ask persons about their prayer life. This seems to settle the matter for them. They figure, “I can’t pray so I won’t.”

Speak Up

No, I am not losing my hearing. This is not about my hearing at all. But, often times, we talk about prayer as if we are talking to each other. We think our prayers are bouncing off the walls, that the words just bounce around in our heads, that they have no place to land.

Have a Little Talk with Jesus

Talking to God can seem like a daunting task. Our prayer list can become a mounting to-do list as we try to write down everything we need to say to God. It can become a shopping list as we look around for the right words to make this a good prayer meal.

A Silent Treatment

This post is not a call to punish anyone, to withhold communication for the purpose of driving home the message. No one messed up. No one needs to come to their senses and apologize. I am not asking you to take my side and refuse to speak to him or her. I won’t ask you to swear to a code of silence.

Pray or Stay the Same

Prayer and change go together. At least that’s what we tell ourselves. We say, “Prayer changes things.” First line of defense or last resort, we believe that prayer is the answer. Expecting a heavenly thumbs up or when our back is up against the wall, we bow our heads, put our hands together, or close our eyes and pray.

Undivided Attention

Now, what was I saying? My attention span is not very long these days. I say these days because I don’t remember which day it was that I began to forget when I stopped being able to catch up, to keep up with one day after another. Like these sentences, they all run together.

Our Prayer Language

We trust God. Of course, we do. We fold our hands and we don’t ever try to raise them to interject our point of view. “Listen God, I’ve been thinking and….” We dare not say a prayer and then intercept. No, God is in control.

Praying with One Eye Open

These days, I am traveling on “a wing and prayer.” While the familiar adage speaks to poor travel conditions, it is all that I could find. The other options don’t fit in the overhead compartment and, of course, would be an additional fee.

Praying Across Enemy Lines

The times, they are divisive. It is hard to know where to stand as it seems that our society is on shifting sand. With politics finding its way into every corner of our lives and kicking up dust, it is time-consuming to keep the conversation clear, the issues distinct from the arguments for and against them.

Welcome Home

Last week, I was studying at the Center for Reconciliation at Duke Divinity School in Durham, North Carolina as part of their Summer Institute for Reconciliation. It’s their tenth anniversary and I am certainly benefiting from the depth and breadth of the work of past facilitators, liturgists, musicians, and participants.

Something to Talk About

Sometimes, there is this feeling that all has been said to God or that nothing need be said. God knows it all, right? The psalmist tells us God is well-acquainted with our thoughts before we ever form them, sees our perspective before we come to understand it (cf. Psalm 139:2).

Yield

Praying hands are not folded hands, resolved that there is nothing more that can be done. We do not pray as a last resort. This conversation with God is not a last-ditch effort; it is not a stand in or a substitute when all else has failed. Prayer is not a desperate attempt for an answer or assistance after we have exhausted all our options.

Keep It Short

“Keep it short.” These were my instructions before praying at a recent gathering of faith leaders. While it is not unusual to be advised regarding the time constraints of an event or the page length for a presentation, this was the first time I had been told this about prayer.

Praying Naturally

Thomas Carlyle told a friend in a letter, “Prayer is and remains the native and deepest impulse of man.” There is an urge to pray because as Eugene Peterson writes, “Prayer is a response.” When we pray, we are always and at all times answering God, who spoke to us first.

Pray at All Hours

While we have come to expect a twenty-four-hour news cycle and, if we could, we’d stare at our social media feeds for just as long, the idea that God speaks at times and days other than at 11 a.m. on Sunday mornings continues to be a stretch for many people.

Prayer is Not Seasonal

Commercials tell us that it is time for families to gather around the Christmas tree and the television. Jingle the bells. Add snow to the background. Cue smiling families, dressed alternately in red and green, making snowmen and snowballs. “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.”

Feeling Prayer

At the start, let me say what this meditation is not about. It is not about expressive versus non-expressive prayer, verbalizing versus praying silently. I am not attempting to make you feel “warm and fuzzy” on the inside or judge persons who don’t feel that way during prayer.