Miss Clara’s Prayer

Today at church, our minister encouraged us to turn Facebook into Gracebook by sharing words of praise and thanks to push back against the anxiety, fear, and negativity that pops up in newsfeeds, especially with the election.  I thought, “Well, this is something I could do.”  As the sermon drew to a close, we all watched a clip from the movie “War Room.”  It was the part where Miss Clara prays.  It’s been a long time since I’ve seen the movie, but Miss Clara begins by saying “You’ve done it again!”  In that moment, she was acknowledging God for the ways that a wife was able to put aside finger pointing and begin praying in earnest for her husband and how the troubled marriage was saved.

She goes from a simple prayer of thanks for one marriage to a huge prayer for Christian revival.  As I was watching the movie clip today in church, I thought it would be fun to journal my way through this prayer during the month of November.  Here’s the prayer in its entirety.  Don’t images and verses readily pop to mind?

You’ve done it again, Lord. You’ve done it again.
You are good, and You are mighty, and You are merciful! And You keep taking care of me when I don’t deserve it.
Praise You, Jesus! You are Lord….

Raise up more that will call upon Your name.
Raise up those that love You, and seek You, and trust You.
Raise ‘em up, Lord!
Raise ’em up!

Lord, we need a generation of believers who are not ashamed of the gospel!
We need an army of believers, Lord, that hate to be lukewarm, and will stand on Your Word above all else!
Raise ’em up, Lord!
Raise ’em up!

I pray for unity among those that love You.
I pray that You open their eyes so that they can see Your truth, Lord.
I pray for Your hand of protection and guidance.
Raise up a generation, Lord, that will take light into this world; that will not compromise when under pressure; that will not cower, Lord, when others fall away!

Raise ’em up, Lord, that they will proclaim that there is salvation in the name of Jesus Christ!
Raise up warriors, Lord, who will fight on their knees, who will worship you with their whole hearts, Lord!
Lord, call us to battle, that we may proclaim King of Kings, and Lord of Lords!

I pray these things with all my heart.
Raise ’em up, Lord!
Raise ’em up!

I decided to begin with the first line:  “You’ve done it again, Lord. You’ve done it again.”

When we begin to pray for something really big, it helps us to remember all that God has done.  Doing so gives us courage to pray for bigger things.  Throughout Scripture there are passages that begin, “Remember how much God has done.”  This was the first such passage I stumbled upon…

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As I worked on this page, I thought about the movie “War Room” and praised God for how he has blessed my marriage and also the marriage of my parents and my husband’s parents.

I try not to talk too much about politics on my blog or controversial topics, but after watching just part of the second presidential debate, I went to my prayer closet and prayed over the marriages in this country.

I felt so demoralized when marital infidelities for both candidates became the focus of the discussion.  I just don’t want that to ever seem normal.  Faithful marriages have blessed my life, and I want that good for all married couples and for children, too.  It seems basic.

Before moving on to the rest of Miss Clara’s big prayer, I want to pause and offer a random prayer for marriage:

I give thanks for the blessings of married life and pray for all married couples.  May couples know the joy of being in love with each other and live with an awareness of the promises made on the day of their weddings.  God, I ask you to inspire couples to make their marriage a priority so that their love for each other can be a sign of your love in the world.  Pour out your grace on married couples that they may experience forgiveness and healing as needed.  Help couples to accept each other’s weaknesses and work through differences.  I pray that you will guide fathers and mothers as they raise up children.  Thank you for all the ways husbands and wives complement and support each other.  Help us all renew our appreciation for the precious gift of marriage.  Amen

The movie “War Room” focused so much on one marriage and then concluded with a prayer for society as a whole and yet there’s something right about that.  Marriages form the most basic building blocks of society and it’s important to support and encourage couples in their journey together.  It feels like now, more than ever, marriages need our prayers.

 

 

Lectio Divina

My church has a wonderful Wednesday night program.  This year we are reading a book called Soul Feast:  An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life by Marjorie J. Thompson.  The first spiritual practice that she introduces is “Chewing on the Word of God” or how to read the Bible spiritually.  As I read this paragraph, so much of it resonated with my own experience of Bible Journaling:

What makes our reading spiritual has as much to do with the intention, attitude, and manner we bring to the words as it does with the nature and content of those words. Spiritual reading is reflective and prayerful.  It is concerned not with speed or volume but with depth and receptivity.  That is because the purpose of spiritual reading is to open ourselves to how God may be speaking to us in and through any particular text.

Spiritual reading doesn’t simply inform:  It shapes us as readers:

The term formation, then suggests being shaped ever more deeply according to the mind of Christ, who reveals and offers us to our full humanity.  Spiritual reading has a formative intent.  Through it we seek a living, transforming relationship with God-in-Christ.

I read this and thought “Yes! Yes! Yes!”  People of often ask me regarding Bible Journaling:  “What if I am not creative?  What if I am not an artist?”  My response is that Bible Journaling is not about producing a beautiful picture, but about entering more deeply into a relationship with God.

Marjorie Thompson introduced a more ancient, time-tested practice for slowing down and savoring the Word:  Lectio Divinia.  This is a four-fold process of slowly reading a passage often outloud in a quiet space (lectio), carrying the Word with you and tossing it in your brain (meditaio), offering prayer to God as it naturally flows from the Biblical text (oratorio), and being in quiet with God:  “a place of rest…[with] no expectations, no demands, no need to know, no desire but to be in the divine presence” (contemplatio).

I practiced reading the prophecy of Zechariah found at the beginning of Luke in this way.  I read the passage slowly about eight times, meditated on the Word, prayed, and sat in stillness until some of the Words just lifted off the pages and spoke to my heart.  Bible Journaling became a way to record this special time with God.  As these words spoke to my heart, they were a message of hope, encouraging me to carry on serving with no fear.

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Visual Faith Event 2016

Last Saturday, I was blessed to spend the day at the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Springfield, VA for a Visual Faith event.  At the start of the day, I was greeted by a new friend who said, “Before coming, I prayed that I would either be encouraged or encourage others.”  I think we both left feeling encouraged.  It was a beautiful day.

Lisa Nichols Hickman, author of Writing in the Margins, gave a talk about God, gold, and margins.  These concepts come together in the margins of our Bible where the “golden margins” leave room on the page to meet up with God.  For publishing, the Golden Margin means the ideal margin settings for the text.  Curiously, I’ve thought about the golden ratio as a margin artist.  Sometimes I find the 2” x 7” rectangle left on the right side of the beautifully laid out text as challenging for design purposes.  One day, I thought:  “what if I designed a tip-in based on the golden ratio.”  Here’s an example of what I mean:

I printed out the familiar golden ratio block and thought about how I might add design elements….

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Then I made the tip-in.

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The golden ratio makes anything pleasing to the eye.  (Nerdy art tip!!!)

I loved Lisa’s idea of beginning a page in our Bible and leaving room to come back to the page to report back on what God has done as a result of spending time in the text.  She shared Isaiah 58:6-11 as a passage that encourages us to go out into the world and then meet back up with God.  The passage exhorts us to take away the yoke, stop pointing fingers and speaking wickedness, pour ourselves out for the hungry and satisfy the afflicted.  Then when we call to God, God will say “Here I am.”  Lisa shared a time when a friend left a blessing bag for a homeless man and was blessed to see him enjoying the products she left for him the next morning.  Lisa also acknowledged that there are plenty of times where we go out and do as God says and we find ourselves going back to the margins with a lament.  The relationship we tried to reconcile remains troubled or something just wasn’t well received.  In these cases, the challenge is to ask ourselves how do we still see God shining.

She gave us the memory device:  Go, God, Gold.

Go:  What we do as a result of reading God’s Word

God:  Returning to God with our report

Gold:  How did God shine?

Isaiah 58 is pretty packed with journaling in my Bible, but I added a reminder on the backside of a tip-in.  YES, MY MARGINS NEED A MARGIN!!!

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Lisa shared how and why gold is used so often in illuminated manuscripts.  The gold exalts the text, reveals the presence of God, shows the costliness of God, reveals the presence of God, and draws us into the picture.  She showed images from the beautiful St. John’s Bible where gold is used throughout as a symbol for God.

After all this talk about gold, I found myself reflecting on a Go, God, Gold moment in my own life.  Lisa encouraged us to think through how God shines even when things seem broken or not going as planned.  This brought to mind a passage from 1 Peter:  “When you are grieved by various trials remember that trials show the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold.”  For a while, I just pondered the wonder that a genuine faith is more precious than gold.  Our faith, a gift from God, shines most brightly in times of trial.

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After Lisa’s presentation there was time for fellowship and lunch.  This is the second time I’ve had the opportunity to get together with this amazing group of Lutheran women.  Both times I’ve come away inspired to do more at home with my own children to encourage their faith.  I was inspired to order the book Praying in Color for kids after a break-out session where someone shared how popular visual prayer is with her homeschool group.

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I also loved this idea:  One of the ladies said to me:  “Haven’t you done a rolodex with your kids yet?”  I was like “Huh?”  And another friend said, “Oh yes, I always give a rolodex as a baby shower gift.”  And I was thinking, “Really?”  So the idea is to create a rolodex filled with faith words and pictures from faith events like baptisms and confirmation as a way of encouraging discussion about faith at home.  Feeling inspired to start our rolodex!!!  In the meantime, I wrote down the definition I found for “blessed” in Connie Denninger’s rolodex and entered it in my Bible.  (I used my inkjet printer to print the above picture onto Removable Window Decal paper that I found at Staples, a fun option for adding photos to your Bible.  The paper is transparent, so you can even lay the picture over the text if you like and the text will shine through.)

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