Prayer Calendar: Ritualistic Prayer

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The word “ritual” doesn’t play well in a Free Church tradition. I hesitated even using it but couldn’t shake it loose. I use it with this definition, “a customarily repeated often formal act or series of acts.”

Why the negative connotation?

Maybe it’s because we associate ritual with churches of questionable beliefs, or maybe we think that praying something over and over again causes it to lose its freshness or even meaning. Maybe it’s because of the throw away world in which we live. With diminishing attention spans, we’re easily bored. Use something for a while and then on to the next thing. Instead of change being an important part of life, it has become so much the fabric of our lives that repetition won’t be tolerated. Whatever the reason, “ritual” is in need of a new press agent!

In the midst of our complex and ever-changing world, I find myself longing for simplicity. Ritualistic prayer is one of the ways in which I find it.

Let me explain.

When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, he gave them what we call the “Lord’s Prayer”, to be repeated or recited regularly. In Jesus time on earth the Jews prayed repeated prayers three times a day, a practice that Jesus himself may have followed.

Before I preached last Sunday, I publically prayed two prayers, one for myself and one for the congregation. This is my “ritual” every time I preach.

  • “Lord, may the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” (from Psalm 19)
  • “Speak Lord, for your servants are listening.” (from Samuel)

I start off almost every day with three ritualistic prayers with our triune God in heart and mind.

  • “Heavenly Father, I pray that this day I will love you with all of my heart, mind, soul and strength and that I will love my neighbour as myself.”
  • Lord Jesus, I pray that this day I will take up my cross and follow you.”
  • “Holy Spirit, I pray that this day you will fill me with yourself and cause your fruit to ripen in my life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

Why do this?

  • It’s meditative; it causes us to think deeply about scripture and where it connects with life. Notice that all of these prayers are directly from scripture.
  • It’s focusing; it causes us to focus on God and what he wants.
  • It’s centering; it causes us to center attention on what is important and best in the midst of life’s complexity.

Pulse Podcast 017: Why People Stop Believing

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In this episode, we’re joined by Paul Chamberlain, a professor at ACTS and TWU. We’re talking about his new book: Why People Stop Believing. It’s an insightful piece, with first-hand accounts of people who have left their faith, sometimes at great personal cost.

We invite you to get a copy for this book for yourself: Click here!

Here is the full-length podcast in video form:

Here is the teaser/preview version, for your church or group:

And here is the audio version:

Pulse Podcast 016: Prayer Retreat Recap

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This is a post that highlights EFCC Sunday — our annual reminder that we are a part of a larger family together — and shares some highlights from the recent Prayer Retreat. In addition to this clip, you’re welcome to share the Revitalize rack card as a reminder to pray for your neighbours. (Click here to see a preview.)

Contact us at Home Office if you want copies of this to share with your church!

In the full podcast, we get deeper into our memories and takeaways from the retreat. What we talked about as leaders is the beginning of a conversation that will be hosted at Conference 2018. It’s pretty significant to us.

Below is the audio version — if you’d like to find all of our audio-only podcasts, you can do that at SoundCloud.
The RSS feed can be found here: http://feeds.soundcloud.com/users/soundcloud:users:41446994/sounds.rss

Pulse Podcast 015: Volunteerism

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Do you think 20% of the people actually do 80% of the work? Our guest on this episode — author and speaker Ann Griffiths — isn’t convinced.

When everything we do is heavily dependent on volunteers, we really need to get our heads around what makes them tick, and what makes them stick.

Here is the preview/abbreviated version, which we invite you to share in your church, small group or wherever people are gathered:

And as usual, here is the audio-only version:

Prayer Calendar: Cleansing Prayer

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Our Prayer and Spiritual Life Catalyst, Dave Acree, contributes to our monthly EFCC Prayer Calendar. To subscribe to that, click here.

“Too much” or “too little” often wins out over “just enough.” We humans don’t do “balance” very well. Take sin for example.

In years past we tended to make too much of sin. We saw sin everywhere. Not just biblically identifiable sin but also culturally determined (by the church) sin, like going to movies or drinking alcohol or shooting pool down at the “hall.” We became so burdened down by sin that life became almost unlivable and our non-church friends (if we had any) saw us as holier-than-thou hypocrites, not something they wanted to be part of.

In times present, we tend to make too little of sin. We’ve managed to do away with most of those culturally determined sins but even the biblically identifiable ones are often now seen as too narrow and binding and perhaps in need of some redefinition, or just ignored. We don’t much like to talk about sin anymore.

In years past confession, or cleansing prayer, was a regular part of our prayer menu, both in public gatherings and in private prayer. Not so much in times present.

If you haven’t read Psalm 51 recently, you should. It’s good for the soul. There’s something cleansing and refreshing about confession of sin. Of course, that means we have to recognize and own up to our sin.

Maybe that’s why 1 John 1:9 is one of the first verses from the Bible we have people memorize. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Back in the 15th century, Ignatius, developed what he called the “examen.” Let me recommend a modified form for you today. At the end of each day think back to where you saw God at work and thank him for it. Also, think back to where you walked away from God’s path and sinned. Confess it and be cleansed.

We all need a daily “prayer bath.”