It’s Okay to Have Needs.

The feeder is empty again
and no one is claiming
that the birds are greedy
for taking what they pleased.

Look at how the fat, pink flowers
are weighing the end of each branch,
sucking nutrients into each velvet petal.
How selfish.

Nature hungers, takes, and needs.
God, why can’t I?

Blessed are we, learning to take
what we need.
Sleeping past our alarms.
Reaching for another helping.
Staying a little longer
when the evening is unwinding.

— Kate Bowler, Have a Beautiful, Terrible Day! Daily Meditations for the Ups, Downs, and In-Betweens, p. 19

Photo: Tree Swallow, South Riding, Virginia, May 21, 2024

How Prayers Are Answered

That’s how prayers are answered: some doors get locked and others get opened. And then there’s the waiting room. I know my friend is now in that waiting room, fearing that no door will open for her again now that this one has shut. I know better, though I have no idea what you’re up to. I told her to just surrender the mess of everything to You. Earthly chaos is really your sandbox. You will reroute her life. I told her not to interfere with Your plans for her. No offering You advice or limitations or restrictions. Surrender means surrender. Let go, and let You have at it.

— Caroline Myss, Intimate Conversations with the Divine, p. 119

Photo: Bluebell Trail, Bull Run Regional Park, April 18, 2008

Rejection Is Protection

I saw such sorrow on a friend’s face today, Lord. Something did not work out the way she had hoped. There was once a time when I would have prayed for her to get the position she was aiming for. When I think of that now, how I used to pray, I wince in my soul. It took me years — and maybe lifetimes — to understand my folly. Thinking that I know what is best for someone, and that You require my guidance — my intervention — to direct another person’s life! I often replay the dream I had years ago, at the time I felt the doors had suddenly closed on the career I had chosen. I had been lamenting not getting my way. I was feeling sorry for myself, rejected by something I wanted, and abandoned by heaven, so to speak. I was not in good shape. But in a dream visitation I was informed that “earthly rejection is holy protection.” I woke up calm. Tranquil, as if I had slept under a blanket of grace. I have never doubted again — not once. When I released my unmet expectations to You, You led me down a path I did not see coming. One I could not have imagined because I never knew it existed.

— Caroline Myss, Intimate Conversations with the Divine, p. 118

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, February 27, 2021

Lifting People Up in Prayer

Intercession is really no more than loving people in prayer. It means setting their faces before us and sitting in their presence, still and quiet, for long enough to find out who they are and what they need — in short, for long enough to love them. In prayer meetings one often hears the words, “Lord, we lift up so-and-so before You.” As a formula this can grow tiresome; nevertheless it is exactly what we are to do. In our hearts we lift up people before the Lord, setting them above ourselves, above and beyond all our personal opinions and prejudices. We lift up people to God in order to see them not with our eyes but with His. Without this divine perception, we cannot pray rightly. We cannot bless others until we see them as God created them to be, pure and blameless.

— Mike Mason, Practicing the Presence of People, p. 197-198

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, December 31, 2015

Praying for Others

Much of what goes by the name of intercessory prayer is not true intercession at all, but judgment. People pass judgment on others and then use prayer to try to get God to reinforce those judgments. We use our own standards to decide what others ought to be like and how they should change, and then we pray, “Lord, please change these people so that they’ll be more like me.” Once people have conformed to our standards, then (i.e., never) we will love them.

This is entirely backward. We need to love people first, unconditionally, and only then will we know how to pray for them. True intercessors know that they can do nothing to change anyone else. Only God changes people. Knowing this, intercessors abandon all need to exercise influence over others, and out of this abandonment true prayer is born.

If we wish to pray effectively for others, we will never hold their faults against them, never reject them for their failings. It is not that intercessors are unaware of people’s faults — but they are even more aware of the real person beneath the faults, the perfect child of God inside the rough exterior, and this is the person they choose to relate to and pray for. They pray not so much for the outer shell to be corrected, but rather for the spirit within to be encouraged and strengthened. If change is to happen, it will happen from the inside out. People do not change when their knuckles are rapped but when their inner beings are flooded with light.

— Mike Mason, Practicing the Presence of People, p. 196-197

[Photo: Abbaye de Royaumont, November 4, 2005]

Intercessory Prayer

When you want to give the audience an emotion — whether in acting or in singing or in writing — you have to be on the other side of the emotion. In talking with one of you, I likened it to intercessory prayer. When you are praying for someone, beware. Do not manipulate. Do not try to control. Do not try to order the universe. You simply move through into that person and then offer whoever it is to God. But, again, you go through and out and on other side of emotion. If you are manipulative with your character — one you’re playing, one you’re writing about, or one you’re praying about — then it doesn’t work.

— Madeleine L’Engle, Madeleine L’Engle, Herself, compiled by Carole F. Chase, p. 222

[Photo: Rhein River, Germany, from Burg Rheinstein, July 1997]

Verse of the Day – A Prayer for my Friends

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way, bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.

— Colossians 1:9-12

[Photo: Burnside Farms, May 8, 2018]

Partnering Prayer

Prayer is a primary means for partnership with God. Prayer is an act of willing participation in the mediation of God’s love. Our prayers somehow play a role in the restoration of all things. Thus, prayer truly matters since God is looking for willing partners who will welcome his healing love into this broken world.

Partnering prayer is also an act of yielding and surrender. In spite of some popular practices of prayer as militant proclamations that ‘pull down heaven,’ Christlike prayer is kenotic, cruciform and willing — not coercive, demanding or manipulative. Parnering prayer listens first to seek God’s will, rather than attempting to impose our will in the world in his name. Partnering prayer is founded and funded in the mercies of God, and is therefore best directed at invoking those ever-ready mercies. How or in what form God chooses to deliver his mercies is finally his domain. We can make requests and petitions, but delivering our demands and dictates seems to me out of order.

— Bradley Jersak, A More Christlike God, p. 156-157

[Photo: South Riding, Virginia, April 6, 2018]