Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
One thing that makes the Smoky Mountains special is that just about anywhere you hike you will find streams and creeks. When you are in the mountains you are surrounded by water even in winter when the streams become beautiful ice sculptures. When I read these familiar words of Paul I think that this is what he means when he tells his friends to pray continually - to surround ourselves with God. Even in cold and icy times we can walk in his presence rejoicing and giving thanks for the water and its beauty.
Thank you for promise of your presence even in cold and hard times. Show us your beauty this day.
Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And he said to them, “When you pray, say:
I didn’t go to a special place known for its flowers or hike long distances to get this picture. It is just the bloom of a garlic plant in my flower bed. Yet the small flowers are so intricate and beautiful when examined with a macro lens. It is just an ordinary plant, something I see everyday, but today I saw its beauty.
Many times I have skipped over these verses that come before the familiar “Lord’s Prayer.” As one of my favorite writers, Debie Thomas, in her Journey with Jesus blog post, "When You Pray", noted these verses have some important insights into how Jesus prayed. The disciples watched Jesus pray and that prompted the request, "teach us to pray." He began his teaching by saying, “When you pray.” For Jesus, praying was an ordinary thing, something that he did all the time. For us to walk closer to God, prayer needs to become an ordinary thing - and in the ordinary things of life we will see God’s beauty and feel his presence.
Make prayer an ordinary thing in our lives. Fill us with your presence.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
I got up very early that morning so that I could be at the gate to the loop road at Cades Cove when the sun came up. I knew exactly where I wanted to go to get the sun shining through the fall leaves, the Missionary Baptist Church. I drove through the dark and sat at the gate and waited for it to open. But as the sun rose what I saw was fog, heavy fog. There was not going to be a beautiful sunrise that made the gold of the autumn leaves shine even brighter against the white of the church. So instead I got this image of the trees made more beautiful by the fog, their branches and leaves becoming an intricate gate over the lane softened by the fog. The circumstances we face are not always the circumstances we want. It is hard to always rejoice and give thanks. I do believe that when we do face difficult circumstances if we pray without ceasing that God is faithful and will give us a new way of seeing. It may not be the image we wanted to see but it will be the image we need to see. And we will see what Jesus has made especially for us to see.
We rejoice in your greatness. We give thanks for the circumstances we face right now. Show us your will.
In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Hebrews 5:7, ESV
We could hear the power of the falls in Firehole Canyon long before they came into sight even though the car windows were closed. When we got to a place where we could stop and look down into the canyon we were amazed at their size and power. The sound was so different from small waterfalls in quiet streams that barely make a sound as they move over the rocks.
Waterfalls are a picture of what it is like to pray. Sometimes our prayers are strong and filled with anguish and other times they are quiet and filled with gratitude. When we just read the prayers of Jesus they can sound sterile without emotion. But when Jesus prayed, his prayers were far from sterile and were full of emotion. Some of his prayers were like big waterfalls of anguish and grief and some were like quiet streams filled with compassion.
Whether our prayers are like a loud crashing waterfall or a small quiet stream, God hears them all. Pray honest prayers to our listening God and then open your ears to hear his answer.
Great Listener God,
We humbly bow before you and offer our prayers knowing that you hear every prayer. Open our ears to the answers you have for each prayer we pray.
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