A moment the heart hears

Photo by jonas mohamadi

Often I wonder, as I pray, where do prayers go? Can anyone hear them? The words, “When we pray from the heart, the heart hears.” came to mind and has been with me all week.

At this time, when many of us cannot be together to pray or offer support and encouragement face to face, I would like to share these reflections with you.

I believe that prayer is a conversation of the heart. With the power of the Holy Spirit, the love of Christ, and an omnipresent God, our prayers are invisible threads that tie us all together. God both hears and responds to the heart, with his heart, by speaking to our hearts and to the hearts of those for whom we pray. Though I cannot visibly attest to God’s presence, I am assured, by the words speaking to my heart, how much we are loved. I pray that these words may reach your heart and give you hope.

Many of us are praying for the sick who are far away. We are praying for the dying who cannot have loved ones at their bedside. We are praying for the lonely and shut-in. And we wonder, does it matter at all? 

Yes! When a heart speaks, another heart hears.

We pray from our hearts:

Genesis 24:45–“Before I finished praying in my heart

Prayer of Manasseh 1:11–And now I bend the knee of my heart, imploring you for your kindness.

Our hearts connect to God’s:

Genesis 8:21–The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart

Luke 7:13–When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her, and he said, “Don’t cry.”

God speaks from His heart to ours:

Proverbs 2:10–For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.

2 Thessalonians 3:5–May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.

Our hearts hear:

Song of Songs 5:2–I slept, but my heart was awake. 

2 Corinthians 3:2–You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts.

Praying for each other is a conversation of the heart:

Romans 10:1–Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.

Colossians 2:2–I want their hearts to be encouraged and united in love, so that they may have all the riches of assured understanding and have the knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ himself.  

Conversations of the heart make a difference:

Psalm 21:2–You have granted him his heart’s desire and have not withheld the request of his lips.

Philemon 1:7–Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.

The apostle Paul, in his ministry, knew the pain of being separated from those he cared for deeply. He did not lose heart and continued to offer prayers for the hearts of others.

1 Thessalonians 2:17–As for us, brothers and sisters, when, for a short time, we were made orphans by being separated from you—in person, not in heart—we longed with great eagerness to see you face to face.

He prays:

1 Thessalonians 3:13–And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you. And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

Perhaps the thread of prayer is felt as a tug connecting one’s heart to God’s and God’s heart to another’s pulling us all closer together.

“Wherever a person is in their life’s journey, there may come a time when the longings of their heart ask, ‘Is this it? Is this all there is?’ In these moments, someone could have a tug in their heart that says, ‘Maybe there’s more.  I want to take it to that next stage .”- Rick Hanson, Ph.D.

May your heart, in this moment, hear the promise of God’s heart hearing. 

A moment of loneliness

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by Shelby Cruse

Genesis 2:18   the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.”

 

 

 

There are 7 billion people in this world, and yet loneliness is becoming more and more common.  It has been reported that the average number of close friends Americans share has dropped from 3 to 2.  And the number of people in America with no close friends has tripled since 1985.   If you are one of these people, who suffer from loneliness you are not alone.

Interestingly loneliness is not a term used in the Bible, although the word alone occurs 195 times in the NRSV version.  Being alone is often a good thing and does not imply loneliness. Jesus had 12 close friends, and of those 12, Peter, Andrew, James and John were held even closer.  Even with this intimate group of friends always around he still often chose to be alone with God, which is still not alone and would not be lonely. These 12 men were called to friendship and set out to bring others into this fold.

Isaiah 41:10  do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.

Improve social skills–Practicing social skills can be very scary especially for the introvert.  But practice anyway.  Speak to at least 2-3 people a day if possible.  Smile, make eye contact and say ” Hi, how are you?” They may reply with a simple “fine.” However, it is the smile and the eye contact that will have the real impact on your loneliness level.  Asking others questions takes the focus off of you and offers it to the other person.  You are now thinking of someone else, and loneliness is moved aside even if only for a moment.

Increase social interaction–Put yourself in places where you can meet other people.  Even the seemingly superficial act of asking “How are you?” as I have said can have an impact.  If you can find ways to increase the questions, you will have more interaction.  Ask for help finding something in a store.  People love to be helpful, and you are offering them a chance to feel needed, and show they care.

Avoid negative thinking–Not all of the conversations you open will have a positive impact but keep your feelings neutral.  The smile and the eye contact you offer will be the thing most remembered and what you said will be forgotten very quickly.  Unless by chance, you said something very positive to a lonely person and made their day. That they will remember and you have done a very good thing!  Try to have a positive impact on everyone you encounter today.  It is a win-win!

Seek support systems–Look for groups that share your interests and join them.  I once said to someone,  “Close friends aren’t made they just are.”  It did not take me long after to realize that was not even close to accurate.  Friends are made, by seeking people with whom you have commonality.  By taking an interest in them and what interests them.  By noticing their low times and offering encouragement.  By sharing in their joys and laughter.  When you do this for others, you just might find that it comes right back to you.

Remember you are never alone–We were created in Love, by Love, for Love.  Open your heart to the Love of God and offer it to others.  It is the Love I feel from God and for God that pushed me to write.  It is my Love for His people that prompted me to send it out.  When I have moments of loneliness, I think of you.  You warm my heart.

A moment of suspense

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You meet those who gladly do right,
    those who remember you in your ways.
But you were angry, and we sinned;
    because you hid yourself we transgressed.
We have all become like one who is unclean,
    and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth.
We all fade like a leaf,
    and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
There is no one who calls on your name,
    or attempts to take hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us,
    and have delivered us into the hand of our iniquity.
Yet, O Lord, you are our Father;
    we are the clay, and you are our potter;
    we are all the work of your hand.
Do not be exceedingly angry, O Lord,
    and do not remember iniquity forever.
    Now consider, we are all your people.  Isaiah 64:5-9

Joy in the absence of feeling God’s presence can be challenging.  But we must trust. We must be obedient.  We must persevere.  In this scripture, though Isaiah is feeling abandoned, he remains faithful to God and pleads for Him to show himself again.  He likens himself and his people to clay in the potter’s hand, ready, to be molded and formed.  In times like this, we are to be aware, be fit and be ready.

Be aware of the inner workings of our hearts.  Listen deeply for the longings we have and what they are telling us about ourselves.  Be aware of the needs around us.  An awareness of the longings of others is essential as we are all connected and called together in some way.

Be fit.  We must continue to act on the knowledge of God even when the feeling of His presence is missing.  Be loving and do loving acts.  Continue to seek God and understanding.  Stay in the practice of your faith.

Be ready.  He will not leave you in suspense forever.  When the work of His hand begins to unfold, and His purpose is more and more evident, be ready to do that which His hands so lovingly molded you to do.

Above all, trust in the slow work of God. Give Our Lord the benefit of believing that his hand is leading you. And accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.  Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

 

 

A moment on the bright side

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“Look on the bright side.”  they

I probably shouldn’t, but I always get bristly when cliche phrases are said to try to make others feel better.  Sometimes things are just dark, and the bright side is too far off in the distance to even imagine what could be there.  But if we are in the darkness, and Jesus is the Light of the world, and Jesus is God made flesh, then the bright side would be God’s side. As I looked at this photo, from the dark side, I saw the light reaching over the mountains, reaching over to the dark side.

In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.  John 1:4-6 (NKJV)

I may not be able to look at or imagine what the bright side is like as I am in the darkness, but knowing there is another side brings me comfort.  Let me assure you, there is another side to our pain and our darkness.   There is God’s side.  And as I notice the light coming over the mountains, I am reminded God’s side is not separate from our side.  He has a plan and a purpose for each of us and for all the events in our lives.  His purpose is to draw us ever closer to Him.  Pain, suffering, and darkness are a necessary part of the process.  So that when we glimpse the other side, we long for it, we move toward it.  We open our hearts and trust in it.  And the light that may seem distant at the time can settle deeper into our hearts.

As I read the following passage this morning, I was struck by Simeon’s delight at seeing the Messiah and what must have been compassion as he tells Mary of her future suffering.

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,

“Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace,
    according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
    which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles
    and for glory to your people Israel.”

And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”  Luke 2:25-35 (NRSV)

Though we may not be able to fully comprehend these things. And though it may not soften the blows of our individual suffering any more than I imagine it could have for Mary.   Perhaps like Mary, we can trust the bright side, knowing the bright side is on our side.

In him was life, and the life was the light of all people.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.  John 1:4-5 (NRSV)