Thursday, July 29, 2010

Intentional Prayer Process

My friend Steve Beard is a strong Wesleyan Christian who has become a maker of Roman Catholic prayer beads. He got his first crucifix in Rome while visiting the Vatican. One thing led to another and he became a crucifix maker with a specific focus on developing a system of prayer and spiritual formation that might connect with non-believers. I know it sounds strange, but it works! Ask me (or better yet, ask Steve) about the various dynamics some day.

Steve got me to thinking. I have always been interested in prayer systems that help Christians to stay on task and to go deeper with God. Thus, I too (but not to the intricate or artistic degree as Steve) became a bead maker. You see my first effort in the photo above.

A set of simple beads modeled after the Anglican beads that are often used for personal prayer. 33 beads in total to represent the individual years in the life of Jesus. A cross to provide a grounding and starting point that is connected to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. An 'introductory' larger bead that launches the sequence of prayer. Four larger beads around the circumference to serve as a reminder in the shape of the cross.

Then there are the seven beads (sometimes referred to as weeks...get it, 7 days = a week...I only mention that because it took me a little while to catch on).

For those who might be interested, here is the sequence that works best for me:

While holding the cross, open with the Lord's Prayer as a way of centering your heart, mind and spirit. Then move to the introductory bead to recite the Apostles' Creed as a way of connecting to Christian doctrine and history.

Next comes the bottom of the four beads that make up the form of the cross. Here I would recite (silently or quietly) the Gospel of John 1:1-5 along with verse 14. Check it out.

Each small bead of the seven week sequence calls for a simple breath prayer that connects us back to the center of Jesus in our lives. "Lord Jesus, have mercy upon me." The weeks can also be used to focus on the intercessory needs of others as you one-by-one move around the circle of faith.

The remaining three larger beads in the cruciform circle are connected to the (1) John Wesley Covenant Prayer, (2) the prayer of St Francis, and (3) my favorite verse from Ephesians 4:11-13 with a strong request for the Body of Christ to be built up.

Strange huh? Let me know, I will build a set for you. Peace!

Monday, July 26, 2010

A long time waiting

Sometimes it takes a really long time to have anything worth while to say. Then there are other times when there are a lot of words but not much that really makes sense. It is the plague of the preacher! Words that fail to communicate the Word (if you know what I mean).

Let me tell you that I continue to be impressed and motivated by the faithfulness of the people who come into my life. Some of those people are 'flesh and blood' folks while others are known only to me through history or the printed word.

For example, I have been reading about the life and ministry of Francis Asbury. What a faithful guy. He traveled on horseback for thousands of miles during post-revolution America when travel was really travel. No road side rest areas by the side of the interstate. No clean restrooms at McDonald's. No cold drink waiting inside the gas station / convenience store. Just miles and miles of saddle time.

As it turns out, Asbury was one of the best know people of his day. He was known by facial recognition to a far greater degree than George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, or any of those swirling constitutional signatures. He knew people of every type. He had wealthy friends who cared for his needs and funded the Methodist movement. But he always choose to spend the night in the home of common folks. Town to town, village to village, homestead to homestead, he was a man of the people.

I love that image. Humble, faithful, loyal, consistent, relational ... I think I see a pattern here. Ultimately he was a pastor. Oh, if only...