Tag Archive: Spirit


The Power of Real Prayer

A friend and I spent an evening sipping tea and reading. For her, it’s fictional stories of medieval knights, kings, queens, and damsels in distress. For me, news, current events, non-fiction biographies and writing.

Without warning, her phone’s ‘Line’ app binged.

Her face quizzically contorted, “My friend from Asia says the Holy Spirit aske her to pray for me?

Why?” I straightforwardly queried.

Huh,” she uttered.

Why?” I repeated.

What?” she sputtered while starting to get mad. “The Spirit obviously needed …” she started and then falling silent. Pausing a moment, “The Spirit knew I was in trouble and …” before drifting off.

Perplexed, she couldn’t answer my question.

My thought was simple, since the Holy Spirit is part of the Holy Trinity and is all powerful, why did the Holy Spirit ask the friend to pray? If the Holy Spirit knew my friend was in trouble, and concerned enough, why didn’t the Holy Spirit simply intervene?

Prayer in the power of the flesh relies upon human ability and effort to carry the prayer forward. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, author of Living Water: Studies in John emphasized:

We all know what it is to feel deadness in prayer, difficulty in prayer, to be tongue-tied, with nothing to say, as it were, having to force ourselves to try. Well, to the extent that is true of us, we are not praying in the Spirit.

It’s hard to pray, when the ‘why’ is unknown. Like most, my friend presumed the request was commanded for a possible, near dire event. However, what if the prayer request was for something wonderful? What if the request was simply, “I love her and she needs to feel that. And she needs to feel you love her as well.

Like most communication with God, most of us are clueless. We don’t know because we fail to ask. As such, we only end up pushing the prayer forward. “Oh Lord. I pray for this person because the Holy Spirit said so.” Pushing a prayer forward generally ends up on Heaven’s cutting room floor.

Real prayer has a living quality characterized by warmth and freedom and a sense of exchange. Real prayer means being in God’s presence and speaking directly to God. In this type pf communication, the Spirit illuminates your mind, moves your heart, and grants a freedom of utterance and liberty of expression.

I close with the following story.

A little boy was kneeling beside his bed with his mother and grandmother and softly saying his prayers, “Dear God, please bless Mummy and Daddy and all the family and please give me a good night’s sleep.”

Suddenly he looked up and shouted, “And don’t forget to give me a bicycle for my birthday!!”

“There is no need to shout like that,” said his mother. “God isn’t deaf.”

“No,” said the little boy, “but Grandma is.”

Ah, the power of real prayer.

Chasing Reflections

While having dinner with a friend, I told him my time was closing and inquired if there was any last thing he wanted to do or place he wished to go while I was still here.

In tears, he asked, “You can’t abandon me.”

Sorry,” I sympathetically replied.

Shrugging it off, he chuckled. “Oh please. You said yourself that no one knows how long someone has to live. You said you were going to die over a year ago. And here you are.”

Awkward pause.

What will I do without you? You’re my only friend,” he whispered.

Make new friends.”

I can’t.”

Why not?

 “I don’t fit in here.”

Having worked here since college, you’re now fairly wealthy. You can ‘cash out,’ return to your native homeland and live in relative ease.”

I can’t.”

Why?

I won’t fit in.”

So, let me understand,” I said. “You’ve worked here all this time and have friends neither here nor at home?

Revealing a painful truth, “Yes.”

What you think you want out of life and how we spend our days in it, may not be nearly as important as the vital layers accumulating within you, hidden in plain sight.

Several years ago, writer David Allen wrote the following:

Love for friends and family, the decency we exchange with those around us, the value of not doing “great things,” but small things in a great way. Those are life’s moments inscribed in our heart.

Further borrowing from Allen, What the conversation between my friend and I remind us to do is that money is not the ultimate goal in life and each of us must take our heart out and read it every so often.

I conclude with the following.

As a laborer walked home along a river, he saw a shimmering in the river.When he looked, he saw a diamond necklace. But the river was completely polluted, filthy and smelly. Still, he decided to try and catch it so he could gain it’s reward. He put his hand in the filthy, dirty river and grabbed at the necklace, but somehow missed it. The second time, he walked into the river and put his whole arm in to catch the necklace. And again, he missed the necklace. Feeling depressed, he did a most disgusting thing and plunged completely into the river. Yet, he failed again.

Just then, a Buddhist monk came upon him.

“What are you doing?” queried the monk.

The man didn’t want to share the secret, so he refused to say.

The monk asked again, “What are you doing?”

The man mustered some courage and told the monk about the necklace and his attempts to catch it.

Taking compassion at the pitiful man, the Monk replied, “Perhaps you should try looking upward, toward the branches of the tree, instead of in the river.”

The man looked up, and true enough, the necklace was dangling on the branch of a tree. All this time, he had only been trying to capture a mere reflection.

SpiritAs we begin to welcome the New Year, I believe we are at a pinnacle of social responsibility. One of the most impressive things about what the younger generation talks about is not what “we” (i.e., the collective society as a whole) should do, it’s the “what I would like to do.” Thus, the personal becomes part of a larger collective movement.

I became aware of this youthful movement during the recent power outage in Vermont. Sipping hot chocolate and swapping stories near and far, I constantly heard, “This is what I will do. Why? Because I’m excited by it; because it’s wonderful and something that leans to the greater good.

In truth, it’s an old concept. Philanthropy in and of itself is pretty old. But the love of mankind remains very powerful to the current generation. In fact, this form of love gives enormous hope. And I find this very very provocative, because while the youth themselves set sail in different directions, the direction as a whole is specific and unique to a problem. But the internal compass is comprised from the single source of love available to all. Saint Paul talked exquisitely of such in his “one church,” many “talents” theme.”

In ushering 2014, we have to think of looking in other directions than we have been looking. Paraphrasing the book “Breaking the Peace (Václav Havelin),” hope does not consist of the expectation that things will come out exactly right, but rather it’s the expectation that they will make sense regardless of the outcome. The world will not be saved by the Internet or our ability to communicate. Our world will be saved by the human spirit. And by the human spirit, I don’t mean anything divine. Rather it will be our individual ability to realize each of has to be something greater; to arise out of the ordinary and achieve something we never thought possible.

On an elemental level, most all have felt some level of spirituality. Some felt it at the work, while others quietly reading a book. I can feel it in the music surrounding me, at a hospital, in bedside prayer or when helping those in need. This form of spirituality elevates us beyond ourselves. To touch this side of ourselves, we must see ourselves and the world through the eyes of another, and of many others. We must be present in all things.

So in 2014, if we are to be the world’s healer, every disadvantaged person in this world – including the United States – must become our focus. Every disadvantaged nation, and perhaps our own nation, becomes priority.

The lesson is clear. The lesson is that the world, and the disadvantaged of the world, deserves our compassion. But beyond our compassion, and far greater than compassion, is our moral imagination and our identification with each individual who lives on this island earth, not to think of them as a huge forest, but as individuals.

In 2014, let each of us not only become committed, but have the charisma, the brilliance, the compassion of Christ, the love of Buddha, the beauty of a Muslim, the heart of all that allows us to succeed and enlist more of humanity in the cause for others. The love of humanity, the love of all, can bring a kind of love translated into action, and in some cases, a focal point of enlightened beyond personal self-interest.

Where there is love of humankind there is love of healing. And it’s found within the power of the indomitable human spirit.

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