Prayer

Please Comfort Comfort

kidnappednigeriangirls-1On April 14, 2014 more than 200 schoolgirls in NE Nigeria were kidnapped by the terrorist group Boko Haram.

Today at our BTS faculty meeting we prayed over a list of some of the names we received from the Church of the Brethren, since many of the girls are from families associated with the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria.

While politicians discuss ransoms and prisoner exchanges, whether it is ever acceptable to negotiate with terrorists, or whether the US should send troops on the ground to another sovereign nation, we can pray.  I assume, many of you are doing so already, but if not pray with me.

God, comfort Comfort Amos and her friends. 
Show grace to Grace Paul and her friends.  
Christ, be with Christiana Bitrus and their friends. 
Lord, we want to rejoice with Rejoice Sanki and her friends.

I spent the summer of 1985 in Bauchi state northern Nigeria not far from Borno State (NE corner of Nigeria) where the village of Chibok is located, where these girls are from.  Ironically, the nickname of Borno State is “Home of Peace.”

God, bring peace to the Home of Peace.  
God, comfort Comfort Amos and her friends.  

If you’d like to read more about the injustice that is happening to females in the world, check out these two books.

 

Half the Sky, by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, is a bestseller that not only tells incredible stories of oppressed women and girls but also offers a hopeful vision–how empowerment and education of women will lead to progress and development.

Half the Church, by Carolyn Custis James, speaks to what God is already doing, and what the church could be doing to embrace God’s vision for women throughout the globe.  

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Staying awake in the Garden of Gethsemane

Garden of Gethsemane and DaveI was speaking at the InterVarsity group at the University of Maryland on God Behaving Badly a few weeks ago, and I got to the end where I talk about Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:32; Matt. 26:32) and I couldn’t resist the temptation.

“The Garden of Gethsemane, I was just there just a few weeks ago.”  It was too good to pass up.  (No, this image isn’t a selfie, my arms not quite that long.)

On a first day in Israel, we started out on the top of the Mount of Olives, looking over Jerusalem.  As we walked down the Mount of Olives toward the city of Jerusalem, we passed through the Garden of Gethsemane.  It would be foolish to assume that the garden hadn’t changed much since Jesus’ day, but it was great to imagine what it must have been like 2000 years ago.  Apparently some of the world’s oldest known olive trees are located there, approximately a thousand years old.

While it’s impossible to say exactly where Jesus prayed the night before he died, the Roman Catholic, Greek and Russian Orthodox churches all disagree (slightly) about the garden’s location on the slope of the Mount of Olives, but let’s hope we can agree on a few things about what happened in Gethsemane.

And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. 34 And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.” 35 And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. 36 And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” 37 And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? 38 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 39 And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. 40 And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they did not know what to answer him. 41 And he came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.” Mark 14:32-42

First, notice that even Jesus’ disciples fell asleep while praying, actually three times (Mark 14:37, 40, 41).  No, I don’t think that’s something to emulate, but it’s still good to point out.  (Although, when I visited Gethsemane, I stayed awake. So, I’ve got that over the disciples.)  Also, if you doze while praying, expect Jesus somehow to wake you up and harass you.  How does Jesus wake you up when you’re supposed to be praying?

Second, Jesus was brutally honest.  He first tells the three disciples that he’s depressed—sorrowful to the point of death.  I hope I would do the same to my framily (according to commercials that’s what we’re suppose to call our friends and family), but I doubt it.  Then Jesus asks his father to remove the cup that he knows he’s supposed to drink.  How honest are you with your friends and with your God?

Third, Jesus prays the same thing three times.  Jesus prays the same thing three times.  Jesus prays the same thing three times.  Do you ever repeat your prayers?

Garden Gethsemane

Thinking about anger this week?

Christianity Today‘s Men of Integrity blog has been going through portions of chapter 2 of God Behaving Badly (Is God angry or loving?) in its daily devotions.

I mentioned this a few days ago, but I wanted to include all the posts for the week in one place if you are interested.  Here they are:

Sunday: Angry, Crabby and Snarky

Monday: Slow to Anger

Tuesday: Steadfast Love

Wednesday: Judgment Deferred

Thursday: Anger ‘and’ Love

Friday: Don’t just skip it

Enjoy!

 

Are you pissed at God?

I’m the divine anger guy.  I’ve written articles recently on “Wrath” in the Dictionary of the Old Testament: Prophets (IVP Bible Dictionary) and Divine Wrath and Divine Compassion in Holy War in the Bible: Christian Morality and an Old Testament Problem.

So, when I was looking at the CBS news website today and I ran across an interview with Ian Punnett, author of How to Pray When You’re Pissed at God: Or Anyone Else for That Matter I was intrigued.  Human anger?  Perhaps a new topic to focus on?

Here’s the link if you want to listen to the interview with the author.  It’s good.

I haven’t bought the book yet, but I probably will just based on the title.  It’s currently in the top 200 on Amazon and the #1 book on prayer right now.

He starts out with an angry tweet from Steve Johnson, wide receiver for the Buffalo Bills who was pissed at God (after he dropped a pass).  Johnson took flack for his angry outburst since people think that pious people don’t talk like that to God, but Punnett thinks he shouldn’t have.  Scripture is full of people who are angry at God.

I could have used this book during the fall when I didn’t understand what God was doing in my life.  I will probably have opportunities in the future when this book will be relevant to my life.  Although, it would be OK if I didn’t.

How do you pray when you’re pissed at God? 

Be careful, though, you don’t want to get struck by lightning.