St. Patrick on Prayer

Here’s an excerpt from St. Patrick’s Confessions:

“After I had come to Ireland I daily used to feed cattle, and prayed frequently during the day; the love of God and the fear of Him increased more and more and faith became stronger, and the spirit was stirred; so that in one day I said about a hundred prayers, and in the night nearly the same; so that I used even to remain in the woods and in the mountains; before daylight I used to rise to prayer, through snow, through frost, through rain, and felt no harm; nor was there any slothfulness in me, and I now perceive, because the spirit was then fervent within me.”

Wow!  Patrick was a man of prayer!

This is incredibly convicting for me.  I’ve woken up very early many mornings to simply roll over and hit the snooze button.  So many opportunities to pray wasted.

Patrick recognized the connection between prayer, the awareness of God’s love, and a fervent spirit, and he gave himself to seeking God.

How about you?  What can you learn about your prayer life from St. Patrick’s example?


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Lets Meet Up and Pray!

Hey Twitter, Facebook, and Blog friends in Ireland and the UK!

I have an idea. I’m going to be in Ireland in May and I’d love to meet up with you and pray for God to move across Western Europe.

On Thursday, May 26th at 3:30pm, let’s meet on the Hill of Slane at the old Slane Abbey in County Meath to meet each other in person and pray. The Hill of Slane is a place of significant Christian history as it was the place where Saint Patrick lit his early paschal fire to let the High King of Tara know that Christianity is coming to Ireland. The Hill is accessible by car and there is parking, even though the map looks a bit different. Just take the narrow Abbey View Road up the hill to the abbey. You can see it on Google Maps here. Switch to satellite view to see it better. What a great opportunity to cover Ireland in prayer just one day before the Slane music festival!

So what do you say? Are you up for it? You can RSVP in the comments and we’ll put it together. What an awesome chance to cry out to God in a beautiful setting and connect with friends we’ve never met!

Slane Abbey

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Christmas is almost here and my kids are exploding with anticipation!

I totally love their enthusiasm!  They go around the house singing Christmas carols, talking about what Christmas day is going to be like, even dancing!  It’s powerfully cute and it reminds me of myself at 7 years old.

The other day one of my boys came up to me and gave me a hug.  While he was hugging me, I felt something wet on my face.  I looked up to see that he was crying.

“Why are you crying?” I asked

“I just love you so much at Christmas time.” He said.  I’m not sure why the fact that it’s Christmas time moved him to tears when he loved on me but I almost wept myself.

I have to admit, I’ve been thinking an awful lot how I wish I felt the same way.  Instead of anticipation, I tend to just go through the motions.  Christmas can feel like so many additions to my task list, instead of a wonderful celebration.

All of this eager expectation that my children are experiencing reminds me of a very important time in my life.

I was in my late teens and I was soaking up God like a sponge.  I was reading through the Bible for the first time, attending church every time the doors were open, and serving in the youth ministry.

I remember the anticipation I would feel as I pulled into the parking lot of our fellowship.  I could hear the music coming from inside as I walked through the parking lot.  My pace would quicken and my heart would beat harder while I stepped through the doors.  I just knew I was going to encounter God there, and I did!

I spent many nights crying out to God for his touch on my life.  I prayed so hard for Him to use me.  I also shed countless tears as I thought about how much He loved me and I did my best to express how much I loved Him in return.

Much like Christmas, I tend to lose my faith anticipation a lot these days.  I don’t run from the car to the church doors expecting a touch from Jesus, I often see many of my faith practices as things to check off a task list, and I can’t remember the last time I wept at the thought of His amazing love.

It’s no wonder I pray the words of Keith Green’s song “My Eyes are Dry” so often.

My eyes are dry.  My faith is old.
My heart is hard.  Prayers are cold.
What can be done for an old heart like mine?
Soften it up with oil and wine.
The oil is you; your Spirit of love.
Please wash me anew in the wine of your blood.

Just as my kids anticipate Christmas, I long to anticipate intimacy with the Father in my lifeTHAT’S  what I want for Christmas! Anticipation.  Expectancy!  A hunger for Jesus that supersedes regimen, fatigue, and whatever else the miles have left encrusted on the wheel wells of this aging hot rod.

That’s my prayer for you and for me; that we would be granted the gift of anticipation. That we would approach our faith like kids on Christmas eve.  That we would get our hopes up, that our pulses would quicken when we walk into a prayer meeting, and that we would cry tears of gratitude when we worship.


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The Problem With Pleasure

Pleasure.  Even the word is rather… pleasurable.  We love pleasure.  We enjoy that delight, that state of gratification we find ourselves in when something really pleases us.  We are, after all, pleasure seeking creatures and we’ll go to great lengths to experience it.

From sex to sunsets, chocolate to sea cruises, we spend most of our lives (and a great deal of money) on sensual satisfaction.  Even when our lives are over, our coffins are made to be soft, comfy, and cozy so that our corpses have a nice pleasant little box to decay in.  I know that’s rather morbid, but we really do live and die for pleasure.

My pleasure?  I have a penchant for sweets.  Anyone who knows me well can tell you I know the Nestle’s Toll House cookie recipe by heart.  I love to snack on the dough while I’m making those delicious chocolate chip cookies and often use the excuse “They’re only fresh once!” to eat two or three extra while trying to make my glass of milk last.  And don’t even get me started on warm, gooey brownies (no nuts please)!

Psalm 34:8 says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” I love the picture this paints.  We can take pleasure in knowing Jesus.  I’ve found from experience that this is true.  As I spend time with Him, I find it really enjoyable.  I experience peace in the middle of stressful circumstances, focus when I’m distracted, and joy when I’m mentally and emotionally maxed out.

One interesting thing about pleasure is that it can be learned.  For example, I detested my first cup of coffee.  It tasted way too much like, well, coffee.  After a while, though, I learned to like it and, eventually, really enjoy it.  I like the aroma it gives, the richness of flavor, and the pick me up I get from the caffeine.  I can hardly pass Caribou without wanting to grab a tall drink!

The other interesting thing about pleasure is that it can be unlearned as well.  If I go for a few weeks without sweets, I actually stop craving them.  If I starve that part of my brain that craves chocolate, hot fudge, or Swedish Fish, I can easily pass them up without feeling the need to indulge.  I can even reach a point where I know longer receive pleasure from the things I love.

Which brings us back to Psalm 34:8.  Over the years, I’ve had the extreme displeasure of seeing some very good friends walk away from Jesus.  It’s massively heartbreaking to see them fall away.  I wonder how someone could possibly choose temporal pleasures over eternity with Jesus.

About a year ago, a dear friend walked away from Christ, his wife, and children because he found pleasure in the arms of a younger woman.  He explained to me how this younger woman made him feel so good and that he just wanted to be happy.  I used to challenge this man to spend time in prayer, to “taste and see” every day how wonderful Jesus is.  He could never bring himself to cultivate a devotional life because he took so much pleasure in reading the morning paper while watching the sun rise from his back porch.  He had starved that part of himself that longs for Christ until it became too easy pass Him by without a glance.

I think that’s why many people walk away from Jesus.  They’ve neglected “tasting and seeing” until their appetite for Him has simply withered away.  They’ve found pleasure in so many other things until there’s no more room at the table for Him.

I think we all need to do a little more “tasting”.  We all need to feed our craving for Christ.  It’s easy for days to turn into weeks, and weeks into months without prayer.  We need to starve off some pleasures to make room for the Ultimate Pleasure because nothing else compares!

“You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.” ~Psalm 16:11

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Tozer Tuesdays

Another edition of Tozer Tuesdays, prayers from his book The Pursuit of God They have profoundly impacted me and I hope they challenge and move you as you pray them too.

O God, be Thou exalted over my possessions.  Nothing of earth’s treasures shall seem dear unto me if only Thou art glorified in my life.  Be Thou exalted over my friendships.  I am determined that Thou shalt be above all, though I must stand deserted and alone in the midst of the earth.  Be Thou exalted over my comforts.  Though it mean the loss of bodily comforts and the carrying of heavy crosses, I shall keep my vow made this day before Thee.  Be Thou exalted over my reputation.  Make me ambitious to please Thee even if as a result I must sink into obscurity and my name be forgotten as a dream.  Rise, O Lord, into Thy proper place of honor, above my ambitions, above my likes and dislikes, above my family, my health and even my life itself.  Let me sink that Thou mayest rise above.  Ride forth upon me as Thou didst ride into Jerusalem mounted upon the humble little beast, a colt, the foal of an ass, and let me hear the children cry to Thee, “Hosanna in the highest.”


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