Henri Nouwen on Contemplative Prayer

Nouwen 2

Christian leaders cannot simply be persons who have well-informed opinions about the burning issues of our time.  Their leadership must be rooted in the permanent, intimate relationship with the incarnate Word, Jesus and they need to find there the source for their words, advice and guidance.  Through the discipline of contemplative prayer, Christian leaders have to learn to listen again and again to the voice of love and to find there the wisdom and courage to address whatever issue presents itself to them.  Dealing with burning issues without being rooted in a deep personal relationship with God easily leads to divisiveness because before we know it our sense of self is caught up in opinion on a given subject.  But when we are securely rooted in personal intimacy with the source of life, it will be possible to remain flexible without being relativistic, convinced without being rigid, willing to confront without being offensive, gentle and forgiving without being soft, and true witnesses without being manipulative.

Henri Nouwen, “In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership” 31-32.

How do you listen to God?  How do you become rooted in a personal intimacy with God?  Which part of this quote jumps out at you?

Thirty One: Praying with the Anabaptists

This book has been a tremendous blessing for me to work and read through.  Below is just one example of this blessing. 

It has been said that in George Blaurock’s four short years of ministry he had a helping hand in baptizing 1000 people in northern Switzerland and the Tyrol.  In 1529, he along with some of his companions were apprehended, imprisioned, condemned for their faith and burned alive.   This is a prayer he wrote in an effort to strengthen the faith of other believers.  Be blessed by the richness of this prayer.

Lord God,

I will praise you now and until my end

because you have given me faith

by which I have learned to know you.

When I felt the heavy load of sin in me,

you came to me with the Word of your divine grace.

For this I will now magnify and praise your glorious

name forever.

Strengthen my faith, O Lord.

Do not forget me

but be with me always.

Protect and teach me with your Holy Spirit

that in all my sufferings I may receive your consolation.

 

Dear Lord,

help me to bear the cross to the destined place,

and turn yourself to me with all grace.

that I may commend my spirit into your hands.

I sencerely pray for all my enemies, O Lord.

however many there may be.

Do no lay their sins to their charge.

Lord, I entreat this according to your will.

May God finish His holy work,

and give strength to the end.

Amen.

Taken from the book “Praying with the Anabaptists: the Secret of Bearing Fruit” page 141, 142.

 

Fifteen: Praying with the Anabaptists

I had no idea that it was even possible to blog from my phone… so this post comes at you somewhere between Calgary and Medicine Hat, Alberta.

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I’ve been slowly working through a book called “Praying with the Anabaptists.” Within it’s pages are some prayers written by some of the Anabaptists forefathers.  Below is a beautiful prayer I would like to share.

Prayer of Walter of Stoelwijk

Merciful Father, look upon me with eyes of compassion…
for to you only… belongs praise and honour…
I commit soul and body into your divine and gracious keeping:
guide me, through Jesus Christ your dear Son,
into all things that are well and pleasing
to your divine Spirit…
Preserve us by your divine Word now and forever. Amen.

A prayer written from prison wherein he was tortured mercilessly. He was burned at the stake on March 24, 1541.

Taken from “Praying with the Anabaptists: The Secret of Bearing Fruit” Page 31.

honest to God

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.  1 Thessalonians 5:18

Have you seen the famous Nascar prayer yet?

When I saw this video I cracked up.  A lot.  But one thing hit me!  At a fundamental level he was honest about what he was thankful for.

Really, you are thankful for ‘GM performance technology?’  The social justice lovin’ Anabaptist hipster (according to a survey I recently did, not so sure though) in me cringed.  I wanted to think that he was thankful for some lame pieces of machinery that do not have much to do with God’s desire for redemption and restoration for humanity and creation.  That, and I’m not a fan of Nascar racing.

Then I got to thinking after a comment I read online… am I being honest to God?

If I’m brutally honest, when I’m thankful I feel selfish.  This reality makes the 1 Thessalonians text a bit awkward.  Here are a few examples.  I would pray and be thankful for a warm place to sleep in the brutal prairie winters, a car to drive, a tv to watch, food to eat, a mountain bike to ride, video games to play, a wife to love, a son to father, a great brother and sister, wonderful parents, friends to chill out with, and a smartphone to play with.  The list goes on and on and it is not some super holy list of things to be thankful for.  It has some of the ‘right’ things, but if I am brutally honest, it does carry a significant element of selfishness.

Think of a relationship. Any kind of relationship. Now think of that relationship and how it would function without the presence of honesty. A brutal place full of deception and wondering if what you are getting is ‘as advertised’.  That is what we do when we are not honest with God.  It’s as if we are trying to pose as something we are not.  But the thing is, God knows who we are so you might as well be honest anyway even if it means you are thankful for living in the first world of North America.  To be honest with God facilitates the opportunity to invite God’s transformative and redemptive presence in those places and spaces that may indeed be selfish.  Honesty presents the opportunity to incarnate the message of Jesus in a holistic way.  When we come honestly, there is a strong push to move into confession.  With confession we remove that which disconnects us from God and become embraced and reconnected with a God whom loves us.  It’s a beautiful opportunity to give God our baggage.

Prayer is a way in which we connect with God.  To do so without honesty is to subvert our connection and in turn disconnect us from God’s presence.  I admire the honesty of the guy in the video.  Pray your next prayer of thankfulness with honesty and be open to God’s transformation.

“Oogity boogity boogity.”  Amen.