Lord, why do my prayer times most often focus on me—myself? I would like to be more outward.
So, began an entry in my journal. Have you ever felt the same way? As I thought about the question, I realized that the outward always begins with the inward. Obstacles in my inner world can be like rocks, all jammed together and wedged to impede the flow of compassion and purpose. Don’t be concerned that your prayers begin with your heart. To have a clear heart is to release the flow of living water.
The enemy would plug the well with rocks of uncertainty and fear. God’s work in, for, and through you loosens the impediments. Do you remember when the Father said to Jesus, “You are my beloved son”? It was from those words that Jesus did all the works that His Father gave Him to do. If His heart had been wedged shut with fear, uncertainty and self-hatred, Jesus would never have been able to respond with obedience to the interruptions. opportunities and human needs. The springs of life came out pure and free because He moved confidently in His Father’s love.
That can be true of you, too. In prayer, you can ask your Father to remove the rocks so you can respond from a place of confidence. God may not always tell you in advance what He will do, but He will prepare you to hear and see by helping you clear the well of your heart.
Everyone is welcome to join our Tuesday Night School of Prayer held at Montavilla Baptist Church from 6:30 to 8:30 PM.
Every Tuesday Evening
Montavilla Baptist Church 9204 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, OR 97216
6:30 – 7:00 Prayer and instruction. 7:00 – 8:00 Intercession by prayer teams 8:00 – 8:30 Discussion and debrief
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. – 1 Thessalonians 5:11
The Tuesday Night School of Prayer is an opportunity for encouraging one another and building one another up. It is a time set aside for people to come for healing prayer. When we make ourselves available to the Truth, Jesus is able to renew our minds. Intentional prayer is a practice by which we agree to hear from God and apply His word to our life.
But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word. – Acts 6:4
Montavilla Baptist Church has graciously agreed to provide a space for this time of prayer. The opportunity is open to all who want to seek the Lord, receive prayer, and pray for others.
The idea of this School of Prayer came through Abide Ministries, a nondenominational association of Christ followers that have covenanted together according to the call of God. We invite all members of the Kingdom Ministries, which is a strategic alliance of many different ministries and churches. Together we form the Church of the Heart.
Calvin and Julie Tadema, of Master’s Mind Ministry, and Dan and Jody Mayhew, of Summit Fellowships, will be providing leadership for this prayer ministry. We want to raise up an army of prayer warriors that are able to confidently intercede for others. Tuesday evenings will be a time for prayer opportunity, some training, and a safe environment in which to gain experience.
What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. – 1 Corinthians 14:26
Abide Ministries sponsors a School of Prayer event in the greater Portland area and across the world. These three-day seminars focus on teaching and introducing the principles of prayer. Healing prayer is one important component of this.
Tuesday Night School of Prayer is a time for practical application of the healing prayer principles. The instructional component of the evening will be relatively small. We want to spend most of our time in practical expressions of the truth God has revealed.
We will present a simple truth or “prayer nugget” at the beginning of the evening. This is to help prayer warriors to build confidence, and to introduce ideas and concepts that have proven to be effective in healing prayer over the years.
We will end the evening with a time for questions and answers. This is an important part of mentoring and discipleship. Any concerns or issues that come up during the intercession can be discussed and used as learning opportunities.
There is not a starting or ending point to the training. It will be an ongoing part of the evening, which is why it is called a School of Prayer. Most of the time will be spent in prayer teams for the sake of practical experience.
Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. – James 5:14-16
Come on Tuesday evenings to receive prayer. There is power in prayer, and God heals in community. This is one of the reasons the Apostle James encouraged new Christians to ask for prayer from the elders (mature believers). We will be gathered as those that offer a prayer of faith so the sick will be saved and you may be healed.
Intercessors take a role as witness. The power to heal and the knowledge by which a person’s mind is renewed can only come from God. Prayer warriors are those with faith to ask and confidence to give testimony as God does the work.
We pray in teams because it is important that intercessors have a safe place in which to build their faith and exercise their spiritual gifts. We team up mature believers with those that are less confident so all can learn and grow.
We also pray in teams because the one receiving prayer needs a safe environment in which to hear from God. We trust the Holy Spirit to confirm truth through unity of the intercessors.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. – 2 Corinthians 5:17
Healing is a supernatural and creative act of God. It is powerful beyond human comprehension, and the results are eternal. There is nothing quite so humbling as to act as witness to the moment in which a person is made a new creation. It is an experience that every Christian should have, and it builds one’s personal relationship with God in a profound way.
Tuesday Night School of Prayer is an opportunity for people to come and experience the healing power of God. We expect people to be set free from sin and darkness. We expect people to be set free from guilt and shame. We expect people to be made whole in the physical, emotional and spiritual realms.
If you would like to become a new creation in Christ, please let one of our teams intercede for you. If you would like to witness the supernatural power of God, please come to be on one of our teams to intercede. If you would like to increase your confidence in the ways and will of God, please come as a regular prayer warrior.
Montavilla Baptist Church is in northeast Portland, Oregon on Hawthorne and 92nd Avenue. It is one block west of I-205 between Stark and Division streets.
This morning, I spent some time praying in my office. I pray here instead of walking when the weather looks sketchy, and today it was definitely that. As I knelt, I had the strange feeling that I was not alone. I realized I had joined – rather, I had entered into a place where countless others have come. Not that they had all been in my office, only that they had been in that space of prayer. It was as though I could see them all, overlaid in that kneeling space. There were Peter, John and the eleven; Paul, Timothy, Aquila and Priscilla. There was Augustine and Luther; Calvin and Meno Simon. There were Wilberforce, John Knox and Wesley; Moravian missionaries and cloistered priests; Bonhoeffer, Corrie ten Boom, Watchman Nee, Ian Thomas and on and on…countless saints, named and nameless have come to this place.
They have come in quiet humility and desperate need; agonizing over weaknesses and repentant in failure. They prayed their exultation in God’s grace and over victories in His love. They came in fearful resignation and courageous determination. They have all been here on their knees crying out to God.
We lament over our insignificance and the hopelessness of our efforts, yet we are like all of the great ones when we pray. Moreover, we are like all of the unknowns. All of us have knelt in this place and so, have become a community. In the place of prayer we are like the luminous heroes of the faith, and not unlike the faintly glowing souls of those who lived in obscurity.
Here, in the privileged place of prayer, we are one.
Screwtape, a chief tempter, imparts wisdom to his apprentice devil, Wormwood:
…[T]he prayers offered in a state of dryness are those which please Him best … Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.
Last night I took out the trash, my weekly pilgrimage to the curb. I’ve done it before. Lots of times. And this is another day… Sometimes I wake up without enthusiasm, not expecting much from the hours that lie ahead. Another day, not unlike the last. I’m probably not the only one like that.
As I was in prayer this morning, I thought about that pattern. I wondered about Jesus awakening in the morning and going out to talk to his Father, his “Abba.” Surely his take on the day was different than mine. He was going to His Papa for instructions and wisdom to face the challenges of walking in a world straining against its destiny. I imagined Jesus as a little child–the Kingdom is made of such–eagerly coming to His Papa: “What are we gonna do today, Papa?” And the answer coming back gently: “Just wait and see…”
Now, I don’t know if I can change, but I want to. I want to go out to my office to pray in the morning, or to the Grotto where I go sometimes, and be the child–have the Jesus-child life in me–and run to my heavenly Father who has adventures in his pocket, look into His face with child-like anticipation and ask, “What are we gonna do today, Papa?” And then go exploring, my Papa and me.
Nearly three hours delay in my flight. Twice we push off from the gate, finally, the third time we are airborne. My cell phone is tucked in my bag, silent and useless. I am deaf to what is happening a world away in Iraq. Five soldiers were killed in a rocket attack last night at Taji.
Caleb is stationed in Taji. It is a little less than 20 miles north of Baghdad.
Yet again I wait for news. There are thousands of soldiers at Taji. What are the chances? Small. But not zero. People win big money at the track on long odds. Five soldiers lost their lives in the gamble of war. Was Caleb one of them? I didn’t know–couldn’t know. My cell phone is dead under the seat in front of me, in a bag. All the way to Minneapolis I think about it: silent, tucked away in a bag, dead.
Caleb called last night. Did he call before or after the explosion that blew apart five families? We think the call came after the attack, that it may have been Caleb’s way of telling us he is OK, though he made no mention of rockets or fatalities. On the other hand, they are not supposed to leak information like that. The Army wants to be the first to bring the news to the families. If the attack came after Caleb’s call we may be one of them. Perhaps a U.S. government car with its somber passengers will be pulling up in front of our house while I am away. That’s how news like that comes to a family. We will find that out four months later.
I pray, affirm my confidence in the hand of God. Then I pray again as my confidence evaporates…and again. I got on to the plane with that uncertainty. As it lands in Minneapolis I am numb. When it reaches the gate I reach for my cell phone and resurrect it, fearing there may be a voice mail alert. I do not want to hear the electronic chord that signals a message is waiting. I stare at the display, fearing, waiting. I watch my name scroll across the screen. No voice mail alert. I start to tuck the phone back into its pouch I realize that I have not been breathing. And then…
My heart pounds. There is a sick feeling in my stomach. I punch *86 and wait. “You have one unheard message. First message…”
Caleb did not die that night at Taji. Sorrow touched some other family–five families. My daughter had called the paper and learned that the report of the attack had come across the wire before Caleb called–she had left the news on my voice mail. Caleb was alive.
And I learned how truly helpless I am. Whether sealed up in a metal tube at 36,000 feet with my cell phone off and my heart in limbo, or walking from the bedroom to the kitchen to pour my morning coffee, my life is out of control. The closest I come to it being in control is by knowing, by assembling information into a coherent picture that I only think I understand. I clamor for clarity, which is my best substitute for trusting God.
“Clarity,” said Mother Teresa, “is the last thing you must give up. I have never had clarity. What I have is trust.”
That is the lesson of life’s journey. Confidence and clarity are illusions, and my trust in God is feeble. That is why I have to constantly reaffirm it. Each time it crumbles under the weight of circumstance, I affirm it, hang on to what trust I have. Prayer is my *86:
You have one unheard message. First message:
Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.
Lesson on a Prodigal Journey: Grief
I have a picture of the three of them. They are standing in our kitchen, arms around each other’s shoulders, grinning. David and Jon are Caleb’s friends. They are our friends, too, as are their families. They are all gathered for a going away barbecue. Caleb, Jon and David are going off to war.
The “two-of-the-one-six-two” was being deployed to Iraq and so we came together as families to see that our brave lads had a proper bon voyage. I remember that warm summer night. There was laughter and smiling; encouraging words; curiosity about “the mission,” and burgers. I remember talking with Jim and George, the other two dads—kidding around. As I recall we hung out with the boys quite a lot that night.
I also remember thinking that we were frightened. We said nothing, of course, but inside the manly hugs, the teasing and the well-timed rejoinders we were scared for our sons. We had not raised these young men to be targets for fanatic adherents to a demonic religion; we had raised them to be the strong and handsome young men that they were. They were not to be objects of hatred in some far away land. And so, brooding in the heart of each of us was fear, like an animal backed into a corner.
Soon, Caleb, Jon and David—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego—climbed onto a plane in Oregon, bound to climb off in the blazing furnace of war. And we three dads stepped into a nightmare of uncertainty, living day by day in the simmering shadow of doubt, of the terrifying question, “what if…” With every news report, the question seared itself into our consciousness. Another soldier…two more marines…helicopter down…a roadside bomb.
In September Jody and I took off for Lake Tahoe. A friend had a cabin there and offered it to us for three or four days so we jumped at the chance to escape the usual. We arrived in the afternoon and unpacked; took a walk to shake out the kinks of the 12-hour drive; went out to eat; came back and sat on the deck; went to bed.
The following afternoon Jody called a few friends to let them know that a mutual acquaintance had been seriously ill and that prayer would be appreciated.
“Hi, Jim!” I heard Jody say into the phone. “Is Marylin…?”
A pause… “Hi, Mar…” Another pause…
And then the agony of war rushed in; an inferno of grief, as Jody gasped and then cried out—agony in a horrified wail that dissolved into brokenness and sobbing.
David was dead. Killed in action. A roadside bomb had stolen another firstborn son.
Suddenly, the innocence—there is no innocence in war—vanished. Any pretense that our children were immune from the “what-if” of war evaporated in the choking sob of a grieving mother: “Jody, he’s gone! David is gone…”
And within the hour we were on the road. Plunging again into the reality of being a parent. It wasn’t Caleb that died on September 13, 2004, but it could have been. He had patrolled that same stretch of road just a day before. It was not Caleb, it was one of our other sons, one of his friends, and we were headed home to be with his parents.
The sun hadn’t yet appeared on the horizon; the Willamette Valley was still a misty grey. We were about an hour south of home. I had finally surrendered the wheel to Jody and was settling down to try to sleep a few minutes before we drove out to Jim and Marylin’s. Then my cell phone rang…Hello?
“Dad? I need to ask you a favor.”
It was Caleb calling from Iraq. Somehow he had gotten hold of a satellite phone.
“Caleb, we heard. We’re on our way.”
“I just wanted you to be with them.”
“We’re on our way. We’re about an hour out. Are you all right?” He said he was.
But in the next few hours he would be taking care of David’s personal effects, preparing them to be sent home.
For Jim, in the weeks after David’s death, the question had changed. It was no longer, ‘what-if?’ it was, ‘why me?’ It ached in him every time he thought of David’s smile and the reality that he would not see it again except in photographs and memory. But, eventually he began to ask, ‘why not me?’ Would he have preferred that another family, another father, endure the pain rather than he? Or isn’t that the way this world is—this battlefield? The world is indifferent to suffering and loss. It is fathers who are not.
Does the eternal heart of God weep? We earthly fathers weep over our sons. Surely the heavenly Father weeps over his. When one of his sons is lost to him he must agonize. And what of it when a prodigal charges recklessly into the world—this furnace of war? Does Father fear for him? I know I fear for Caleb because, unlike God, I do not know the outcome of this war. He may be home from Iraq, but the war is far from over. It rages in his heart and pursues him whenever he thinks of the day he retrieved David’s things: ID tags, wallet, ring…the things he took from David’s body the day he died, and the other things that were left back at the base, on that last morning. It was Caleb who put all of them in a box and sent them home along with a letter to David’s parents, the letter they read at their son’s funeral.