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Friday, May 13, 2016

Praying (again)

Sunday School the "Spring Semester" has heavily focused on the healing ministry. My intent has been to broaden the connotation of the term to include much more than just physical healing. In the end, any physical healing we receive is always temporary until the final healing in the resurrection. People all die eventually. But death is defeated!!!!

We have tried to emphasize the Father's will (health and salvation for ALL) and the role of Jesus (Joshua in Hebrew, Yeshua in Aramaic--all meaning YHWH saves/rescues). We have also said that what Jesus did in His ministry He now does in and through our ministry. He gave His followers (disciples) power and authority (in the Holy Spirit) and sent them out (apostles) to reconcile sinners to God by proclaiming God's rule (Kingdom) and teaching, healing and exorcising. We explained that there is a physical, spiritual and 'soul' realm and that each has it's own rules and part to play. The rationalist church addresses mind but Bible study and theology are only part of the ministry of Jesus. The fullness of life (redemption, salvation, etc.) includes body, emotion, desire, will, memory, spirit. A holistic ministry will look like Jesus' story in the Gospels. Lastly, we have tried to emphasize that the promises of God are true in the present time and not simply a code for "heaven" and the after life. The Holy Three in One have already begun the work of eternal life (Kingdom Shalom) and we can already "taste and see that the Lord is good"---even if we await the perfection and completion of the Kingdom among us. Patient trust has a present and future focus.

Why are all our prayers not answered? As we taught, the fallen world is still under the results of the curse. There are obstacles (world, flesh, devil) in a world which God made and sustains, but in which His rule is incomplete and another "god of this world" is exerting its dark power (even if Jesus has defeated the Enemy by His life, cross, death, resurrection and ascension). God is in the process of making all things new (it is both an on-going progressive work and a future once-and-for-all apocalyptic event). Time for God is a different kind of experience. His future bleeds into our present and even invades and redeems our past! Life is covered in darkness, sin, suffering and death--so much pain (pastors hear it, more importantly God hears it!); and God comes to save those in pain today, here and now (most usually through human agency, especially the church). Some day the completed glory, but already light shines, forgiveness and mercy are among us, health and wholeness are manifest. Pain is real, but there is more joy and peace, more celebration and strength, more blessing--at least for those with loving trust and open eyes and ears! God is with us (Emmanuel), to save us (Yeshua/Jesus) and heal us (Raphael) and strengthen us (Michael) and deal with us in Mercy/Covenant love and faithful kindness (Hesed) and pour out on us the abundance and life of peace (Shalom) in the Kingdom. The apostle prays over people those Hebrew words, with love and confidence, and already the future promise is made manifest in the life of each one of us. It is a remarkable blessing and gift (grace and salvation). We may not be happy, but in hope we can always have joy!

SO how then to pray?
1. As a means of communion. Not talking at God, assigning Him tasks, but being with (words optional) and entering the Three in One and opening to the Three in One. Our goal is to be one with God.... at its best prayer is always intimate communion.
2. if you use words, always include a time of honest speaking. Your simple words... Speak the truth to God, humbly and confidently. Believe God cares. Believe God loves. Believe and trust and entrust!
3. the Anglican Way (shaped by the Benedictine Way of the great Western monastic tradition) includes the formal recitation of psalms and prayers with readings from Scripture. This is the listening part of prayer. God speaks to us in our "soul" and we commune with God as we pray inspired words. The Scriptures shape and form our imagination. We want to pray to the Father as Jesus prayed. We want Jesus and the Spirit to pray in us. Word and Spirit are gifts. As we become familiar with Scripture in worship, it adds a spiritual dimension to the academic, rational study.
4. eucharist. Jesus says do this in memory of Me. so we pray at table with and in Him. Recalling to God the offer of Jesus and reminding ourselves, with gratitude and praise, of all the Father has done in/through the Son and Holy Spirit.

Every day, psalms and Bible readings. Ponder the word, repeat it and let it soak in.
Every day (often), talk to God in Jesus as a friend and teacher and loyal King.
Every day commune with God, becoming what you were created to be: a vessel, chosen, holy and beloved. A temple of The Holy Three and a tool/instrument of the mission and ministry of Jesus to flow into and out of in saving work.

Our cooperation is a door for God's power to do "infinitely more than we can ask or imagine" so "glory to God, in the church and in Christ Jesus (and in the Holy Spirit), today, tomorrow and forever!"
Pray, study, do the work of God (or, better, let God do His work in you).

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