Monday, October 20, 2014

The Dos and Don'ts of Prayer

“Don’t expect a million dollar answer from a two second prayer.” (unknown)

Do “Pray and let God worry.” (Martin Luther)

Why should we pray and for what do we pray?

I found this PRAYER FOR ALL NEEDS in the back of a Catholic Mass Missal. It reads:

“We beg You, Lord, to help and defend us. Deliver the oppressed, pity the insignificant, raise the fallen, show Yourself to the needy, heal the sick, bring back those of Your people who have gone astray, feed the hungry, lift up the weak, take off the prisoners’ chains.”

"May every nation come to know that You alone are God, that Jesus Christ is Your Child, that we are Your people, the sheep that You pasture. Amen."

Not sure about you, but I know that I need our Lord’s help. I need Him in my life every minute of everyday.

Prayer is the only way we can experience a real and personal relationship with God. If you don’t pray, you lose out on knowing and feeling God deep within your heart.

We all have different prayer needs, but we all have the same God who reaches out to us in prayer.

Life is full of choices, whatever you do, don't forget to pray!

It is our lifeline to God.

"But he must ask in faith without any doubting, 
for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, 
driven and tossed by the wind."
James 1:6

(Photo and chosen Bible verse courtesy of Cullen O'Donnell.)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Love and Hate

I have a love-hate relationship with my hair.

I hate it when my curls look too natural, but I love the natural look. I want curls, but then I don’t. Every morning it is a test of wills…air dry or blow out…comb or brush.

It’s love and hate; the two make me want to literally pull my hair out.

Love, you know it, the very thing that makes the world go around. Well, hate, rightfully so, can never be intertwined with love.

Here are a couple examples.

I can’t love God and hate my neighbor.

I can’t love God and hate life around me.

And, I can’t love God if money, power, and greed rule my life.

“Do not store up riches for yourselves here on earth, where moths and rust destroy, and robbers break in and steal. Instead, store up riches for yourselves in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and robbers cannot break in and steal. For your heart will always be where your riches are.” (Matthew 6:19-21)

Some things, such as oil and water can’t be mixed together. They’ll never blend as one. The same goes for love of God and the love of money.

“You cannot be a slave of two masters; you will hate one and love the other, you will be loyal to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matthew 6:24)

It isn’t always easy to be content with what you have. But, money, power and the desire to have it all come with a price to pay.

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me.” (Exodus 20:2)

Love and hate, when it comes to God, which one will you choose?

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Cross My Heart

Natural instinct makes me quickly make the sign of the cross whenever I come too close to a close call.

A quick sign of the cross and I’m good to go.

Well, the other day something profound happened to me. It wasn’t natural instinct that brought me to this, it was a deep spiritual moment where I found myself staring at Jesus.

He was nailed to a cross.

I started thinking about His arms and legs and heart. I thought of how He walked and talked, and ate and drank, and befriended strangers, encouraged His friends, smiled at kids, honored His mother, danced at weddings, and cried at deaths.

I thought of how He believed in the goodness of the human heart, prayed for humankind, and willingly let Himself be tortured and crucified to bear our sins so we can have eternal life.

I couldn’t take my eyes off this amazing Jesus.

I stared at that cross, the cross that we have done absolutely nothing to deserve, but has done everything for us.

All this made me wonder what could I possibly do for Him. What is He calling me to do?

I’m only human, I fall down, and I do this quite frequently, I’m always tripping over my own two feet. I burn and bruise and my fragile heart easily breaks into a million pieces over the silliest of things and circumstances.

How can I possibly do anything for Him?

Then it came to me, the more I stared at His arms and legs and heart, and the more I thought about it, I realized that because of Jesus, I (a mere human) can rise and get back up to a full standing position.

I can walk, and eat and drink, and be nice to others. I can dance, and laugh and cry, and pray. I can befriend strangers, I can offer encouraging words. I can help where help is needed. I can share, I can give back, and I can love.

Most of all I can be a better Christian today than I was yesterday.

I guess I have my answer. This clearly is what He is calling me to do.

He is asking me to grow each day towards living a better Christian life, to keep steadfast in faith, to hold onto hope, and to simply and honestly love others.

I don’t really know why, but for some reason I couldn’t take my eyes off this amazing Jesus. I just kept staring and staring.

How about you?

Have you stopped to stare at the One hanging on a cross? Have you had the chance to ask Him what you can do for Him?

Cross my heart, if you take the time to really look at Jesus…it will change your life.

It has for me.

You are loved more than you will ever know
by someone who died to know you.
(Taken from Romans 5:8)

Monday, October 6, 2014

I'm Falling...Again!

Every year it is the same thing. I fall head over heals in love with Her.

The Her I’m talking about is Autumn. She is so beautiful, so peaceful, and so full of color, so crisp, so noticeably changing, and so full of possibilities, so very unique.

So wonder every year I get the same feeling, I just can’t help it; I’ll always love Her to pieces.

Getting to witness the changing color of leaves, viewing the long shadows the sun produces come late afternoon, and being able to glance up at the giant harvest moon at night is like getting to witness everyday miracles.

Oh, sure some weather experts could easily tell us why we see the changes in nature, but me, I’d rather simply look with love upon the changing colors of our trees and thank God for the miracles taking place every Autumn.

This in part makes me grateful for all the other miraculous things we take for granted.

Like our ability to move, to smile, to cry, to dance, to laugh, the beautiful feeling one gets of being needed and loved.

Another reason I love fall so much has to do with letting go of yesterdays. I go outside and see all these changes taking place and it makes me want to change my ways, my mundane ways that don’t always include growth and moving forward.

Change is hard, especially for some of us who like to fight with change, but our God makes fall changes look so breathtaking beautiful, and has a way of recreating us that is far beyond our understanding. Isaiah 55:8 reads: “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord.”

Fall reminds me that no matter what plans I have made, God has better plans for me.

Open your heart and let God’s plans fall into place. Once you do, I’m sure you’ll love His changes!

Enjoy the beauty of Autumn.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Power of Prayer

On a different October 1st, in the year 1920, my father was born.

He has since passed away, but every October 1st I find myself doing a lot of reminiscing about him. I remember my father in many different ways.

I think of him as the father I knew, I imagine things about him as a young boy that I never knew, and at times I day dream about him as a soldier in the Army during World War II. 

Our father never told us firsthand any of his Army stories, but growing up I remember a story my mother re-told that has always remained seated deep within my heart.

To make a long story even longer, I don’t know the date, time, location, or even half of the details. But, what I do know is that this is a true story of courage, devotion, and the power of prayer.

My mother would explain that when the war ended his troop was given the task of disposing live ammunition into the ocean. His sergeant, who knew our father was a practicing Catholic, having seen him attend mass every Sunday, asked him to volunteer alongside him to carry out this task.

My father agreed, and had told my mom that as he and his sergeant reached down to pick up the dynamite they began to recite “Our Father, Who art in heaven…”

I often wonder what the other soldiers were thinking as they watched their sergeant and my father carry out this task. How grateful they must have been not to worry about drawing the short straw.

As the two prayed over and again “Our Father, Who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name…” I like to imagine that their hands were as steady as their voices; and their voices as steady as their hands.

I don’t know how much ammunition they had to dispose of, how far they had to walk, if they ever almost stumbled, or how many “Our Father’s” they prayed, but by the power of prayer they both remained standing.

Presently, whenever I find myself faced with carrying out a task I’m dreading, asked to volunteer or do something I know I should, but don’t really want to, I think of my father and his sergeant, and how repetitive prayer kept them focused.

Our prayers when invoked with devotion are so very powerful. They can provide courage in times of weakness, deliver hope in desperate situations, and one prayer alone can make the world a better place.

Life is a battlefield. We need a strong prayer life to help us through our conflicts and struggles. Our prayers today influence our tomorrows.

Prayer has many side effects, some reactions are instantaneous; while some we won’t recognize till years later, and some we may never know until after our last breath here on earth has expired.

Today is October 1st, the day my father was born.

A day I will fondly remember him.

A day I’ll pray, “Our Father, Who art in heaven…”

One prayer has the power to revolutionize our world.

Pray everyday!

Godspeed Dad!