KEEPING A PRAYER JOURNAL

We can talk to God any time, but it helps to set aside a specific time for prayer. Consider using a prayer journal as a reminder of who and what to pray for.

Keep a list of people and needs you want to talk to God about. Pray for particular needs and areas each day. For example; on one day, pray for family members (their needs, salvation, etc.); on the next day, pray for friends (their needs, salvation, etc.); on another day, pray for your church; and on another day, pray for the world (world leaders, missions, and the spread of the gospel) In your prayer journal, record the date you began praying for your need or that of a friend. Then record the date it was answered. Learn to celebrate answered prayer.

Hopeful Because …

When I taught Sunday school, I followed a routine each Sunday aimed at settling the students so we could have a conversation about Jesus and life. We had a snack, a beverage, watched a zany video (usually about people doing foolish things), and chatted about the world around us. We also placed our initials on a large scale that rated our week from bad to good.

While we munched on snacks, each student shared why they put their initial where they did. They told their week’s story while others listened and offered comments. The actual objective was to ensure they knew how to move away from a bad week, to good and how not to let something keep them down. One week, following a tragedy in the US, we placed our initials on the scale with a different question; “How did this make you feel.” 

Although the oldest student was only 14, youth are not blind to what is happening around them. Some had experienced bullies, some knew of family discord and family love, and almost every one of them knew of someone who had taken their lives because of not being able to cope. They were not oblivious to the message that culture pushed down their throat – YOLO (you only live once). So, when they got to talk about life, they spoke.  They knew what had happened. They watched the news. They watched people react. They were taught Jesus was with them when things seem to be at their worst. They have heard He is called the comforter and would take away their sorrows. They knew Jesus is the answer to the world’s problems, but just saying the name JESUS did not stop the bullying. Just saying JESUS did not make a father come home and just saying JESUS did not stop that tragic world event. They needed to know where Jesus was during this challenging time so that they could have hope. Jesus said he came so that we could have life to the fullest (John 10:10), and they needed to know that Jesus’ truth was possible. 

The discussion was profound. The students noted how people helped each other during the tragedy even though they did not know what happened or whether it could worsen.  They witnessed people loving one another. They reflected on the message they shared every week; love another and help a fallen buddy. The class was diverse, with students from North America, Europe, Africa, and Nepal, but not one child thought the tragedy was the fault of religion or a specific culture or God. All believed that many bad things happen around us because men and women have made choices that selfishly and purposefully hurt others. They also thought that they could help people in their time of need just by listening to them. 

Our world has changed over the past year. Our movements have been restricted, our ability to connect with family and friends reduced, and there is uncertainty when it will end or what will follow. As the virus continues and the restrictions remain in place (conditions meant to help ourselves and others), more and more people get angry because they feel they cannot do what they want to do. We are in a time where we must think of our safety but not forget about those around us. During this time, I remember the conversations the students had that morning because it contained hope. It was “do not to let the bad things get you down; feel upset, feel angry, but help someone.” Trust Jesus and feel hopeful because YOLO and that once can be a time of doing the good God has prepared for you. 

CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER

“In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God”. (Romans 8:26-27)

A while ago the MCF posted spiritual practices on this website with the aim of assisting people grow their understanding of God. One practice was called Contemplative prayer which is a means to connect with God, without giving Him information about what we would like to see happen. In contemplative prayer we sit and wait and depend on God to initiate communion and communication. It requires patience. To understand and enjoy its benefits we do need to try this type of prayer often. 

CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER

The practice

  • Set aside a time of quietness with God.
  • One way to quiet our minds it to quiet our bodies.
  • Spend 5 minutes intentionally relaxing your body and breathing deeply. 
  • Afterwards, spend 5 minutes noticing where your mind wanted to go. 
  • Offer what you noticed to God, then let go and open yourself to God’s love. 
  • Be receptive to a prayer God may be giving you to say. (Remember that contemplative prayer is more receptive than active). 
  • If it is difficult for you to sit still in God’s presence, then go for a walk. 
  • Say to God “Here I am. I am with you.” 
  • Be with God and welcome Him. 
  • Try to not to control or influence the situation and just give God your attention.
  • End your prayer time breathing in God’s love by being aware that your every breath is God’s gift.

Quid set veritas – What is truth?

Pontius Pilate, the military commander of the occupational forces that oversaw the administration of Judea was governor when Jesus was crucified. As prefect he had the authority to implement justice, He alone made the political decision to have Jesus flogged and crucified. Ironically, Pilate attempted to hide the truth about his involvement by washing his hands in front of the crowd symbolically declaring that he was clean of all responsibility. Those watching knew the truth; Pilate had a role.  

Why did he try to distance himself from Jesus’ execution?

Was he troubled by the words Jesus spoke earlier when he stated, “everyone on the side of the truth listens to me?” (John 18:37b)

Was Pilate looking for truth when he replied to Jesus “what is truth” (John 18:38a) or was he being sarcastic?

What is the truth surrounding Jesus? Many of us have friends who need to hear Jesus’ story. You could invite a friend to a movie night and show one of the many good versions of Jesus story. Netflix has The Passion of the Christ and The Gospel of John (NIV and KJV version). There is also The Jesus Film and the 2003 Gospel of John.  Hollywood has made many movies that are less accurate but will get a conversation about Jesus started; movies such as Ben Hur, The Robe or even Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar. 

There is a truth about Easter that needs to be shared with our family and friends. Maybe this is the Easter season that some may ask you “What is truth?” and you should be ready to share. Pray the Holy Spirit prepares the heart of someone you know to hear Jesus’ truth this week. Also, pray and ask God to use you to help someone understand the truth behind the celebration of Easter.

Not how, but WHY?

Christian blogs, magazines and even friends often offer advice on ways to improve ourselves so we can become “better” Christians. They list activities or actions that, if followed, could lead us closer to God. Although the advice comes from the heart, and is meant for good, it often leaves out a key component of the change, the needed influence of the Holy Spirit.

We don’t become Christians unless God chooses us, and we don’t change unless the Holy Spirit transform us. It is not about will power but God’s power.

Although God makes the choice as to whose eyes and hearts He will open, He doesn’t empower followers unless they allow it. Scripture tells us that we have choices including whether we want to follow Jesus or not. Being a Christ follower requires a mindset that points to God. Paul writes in his letter to the Romans that we must be transformed by the renewing of our mind (see Romans 12:2). We must intentionally choose to become followers so that we can honour and glorify God. We must purposefully seek to love God with all our mind, heart, soul and strength and we can’t do that without the Holy Spirit’s help.

There is an expression that states, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”. God does not want us to imitate Jesus or flatter Him; as flattery can also suggest an insincere act or word used to impress the recipient. God wants our action to be sincere and pure. God wants us to be as Jesus is. When the Holy Spirit gets involved, our actions and behaviours should become Christ like. They then should become immediate responses to the Holy Sprit’s activity in our lives, not responses motivated by a desire to please God or get something from Him.

Don’t ignore the advice and guidance from sources that want you to be Christ like. Educate yourself as to what scripture describes as God’s attributes. Choose to become aware of the Holy Spirits nudging by listening and following His guidance. Seek confirmation from Christian friends or your pastor about what you are hearing but deliberately want more. However always remember that your desire to be Christ like should be for no reason other than to worship God.

It is not how we seek but why.

Obstacles to Prayer

From: ‘Prayer changes everything’,
written by Bennie Mostert, Carpe Diem publishers


Sometimes we feel as if our prayers just bounce off the ceiling and are not breaking through.

There can be many reasons for this.

Listed below are only a few of them.

Ask the Lord to show you other things that may also hinder your prayer life.



  1. Conscious unconfessed sins: “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened …”   (Ps.66:18). “Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save nor His ear too dull to hear.  But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden His face from you so that He will not hear” (Is.59:1-2).
  2. Stingy and covetous: “If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered” (Pr.21:13).  “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.  Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Tim.6:10).
  3. Unbelief and doubt: “…in regard to sin, because men do not believe in Me” (Jn.16:9). “But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does” (Jas.1:6-8).
  4. Unforgiveness and bitterness: “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
  5. Pride: (Jas.4:6) “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
  6. Selfish motives in prayer:  (Jas.4:3) “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”
  7. A critical spirit: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” (Mt.7:1). “You, then, why do you judge your brother?  Or why do you look down on your brother?  For we will all stand before God’s judgement seat” (Rm.14:10).
  8. Ingratitude: (1 Th.5:18) “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
  9. Love for the world and worldliness: (1 Jn.2:15) “Do not love the world or anything in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
  10. When you do not pray according to the will of God: (1 Jn.5:14) “This is the assurance we have in approaching God; that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.”

The Cross

The Apostle Paul wrote the letter known as 1 Corinthians to the church in Corinth because he heard they were straying from the teaching he shared and were going back to their old ways. In his letter, he reiterated that they must focus on his teaching, Christ crucified. Paul knew that preaching the crucified Jesus was a difficult concept for the people of those times to grasp and says as much in 1 Corinthians 1:23 “Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.”

To the first listeners, the Cross was shocking, revolting, and offensive. They knew what crucifixion looked like, smelled like, and sounded like. The horrific sight of completely naked men in agony, the smell, the sounds of their groans, and laboured breathing going on for hours and, in some cases, for days was fresh in their minds. The Jewish community could not admit their Messiah was crucified like a criminal amongst other criminals. The gentiles could not accept the idea that the Saviour of the world was executed by the most horrible, painful, shameful, and ugly form of execution known to them at that time.

Someone wrote (I can’t remember who) that “sin is the poison that is killing and destroying the world and that the death of Jesus on the Cross is the antidote.” If asked, many Christians will say that Jesus had to die on the Cross for our sins. Most know there is a close connection between the Cross and human sin as this linking is firmly rooted in the New Testament. However, most Christians have a difficult time explaining why the death of Christ is the proper antidote for the poison of sin because they’ve never really come to grips with the poison. They know the correct answer, “Christ died for our sins,” but the answer seems superficial, hollow, and unconvincing when they respond. The loss of the general awareness of sin in culture over the past seventy-five years has resulted in a growing disconnect between the solution and the problem.

The idea of the Cross having any significance in a religious setting may have been scandalous to the Jewish people and silly to the Gentile, yet the Cross is the point of reference for the Christian faith. Christian faith is based upon it and judged by it. Christian theology, Christian worship, and Christian ethics stem from the Cross of Jesus. The Cross has meaning because of the significance of the person who was put to death on it and because of what his death accomplished.

Jesus went to the Cross to free us from the curse (Galatians 3:13), to reconcile us with God (Romans 10:5), and to save us from the consequence of sin (Romans 5:8). The Cross is the answer to the problem of sin, but very few people understand what the problem is or seem bothered by it? Can you take this time during this Lenten season to reflect on the poison you knowingly partake of even though it is offensive to yourself, those around you, and to God? Will you look to Jesus, the antidote, who wants to make you the human being you were created to be at the start of God’s plan.

Prayer for a peace within

Oh Lord, sometimes my insides feel like a battle zone, where missiles are falling too close to home. Other times I’m caught in an endless storm, with thoughts flying out of control. Confusion reigns and defeat creeps in to steal my joy. I need your peace—the deep-down-in-your-heart kind that stays with me day and night and speaks confidently into the wind.
Calm my anxious spirit, Lord; all the attacking “if-only’s” and “what-ifs” fill me with needless worry.

I know that trust is a big part of experiencing peace and that fear has no place in my life. Most of the things I worry about or dread don’t even happen.


So I’m declaring my trust in you. I’m releasing the reins of my life again and asking you to take control.


I may need to pray this same prayer daily, but I’m tired of the frenzy of life that leaves my schedule and my thoughts without any margin. I need more of you, Lord, and less of me.

I surrender and admit I can’t control people, plans, or even all my circumstances, but I can yield those things to you, and focus on your goodness. Thank you today for every good gift you’ve given, every blessing you’ve sent, all the forgiveness I did not deserve, and, yes, for every trial you’ve allowed into my life. You bring good out of every circumstance if I’ll only let go and believe you. I know that when I pray and give thanks instead of worrying, you have promised that I can experience the kind of peace that passes all understanding. That’s your kind of peace, Lord. And it’s the kind I crave.

Whenever I’m stressed, anxious, or afraid, help me remember to run to you. You’re the only one that can calm my fears and end my fretful behavior.


Whether in trivial or heavy matters, I know you will not only give me peace; Lord, you will be my peace.


And when I draw close to you—in prayer, in reading your Word, in helping another, in taking my mind off myself—you will be there, up close and personal.

I can’t handle these times alone, Lord. Will you speak peace and calm my storms, or hold my hand while we walk through them together? Will you bring the reassuring wisdom of those who have come through similar times into my life? Thank you, Lord. I’m trusting you. In the name of the One who makes the wind and the waves stand still, Amen.
~ Rebecca Barlow Jordan

The Good Shepherd

The Gospel of John chapter 10 contains the story of the Good Shepherd. In this story, he shares that a good shepherd will do all he can to ensure his sheep’s safety and comfort, even to the point of laying down his life for them.  He alludes to the efforts of those who came before Him. They attempted to guide the sheep but did not do so with love and compassion and had taken shortcuts. They wielded their responsibility and staff incorrectly and led with coercion, not cohesion.  The good shepherd loves and knows His sheep and wants what is good for them; when they follow His voice, they are not led astray.

The story is also a prelude to Jesus’ laying down of His life for humanity. However, it also contains a great reminder that His life was not just about going to the cross to reconcile us to God. Not only did Jesus come to lay down His life, but, as He stated, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10b).


What is this full life?
Is it a life with plenty to eat, good health, all the money we want and few troubles to bother us?
Is i
t a life that is comfortable and convenient? 


In Matthew’s gospel, we read, “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (Matt 6:34) After sharing a way to pray, Jesus throws in this reminder that life is not always green pastures. He has warned us that we will suffer, but we can talk with our Father in Heaven and bring Him all our concerns. Scripture also reminds us that when Jesus ascended to heaven after rising from death, He sent the Comforter, his Holy Spirit, to help us through the darkness.

The year 2020 was filled with ugly stories of human folly, and 2021 looks to bring the same. The COVID virus has revealed humanity’s true depraved nature. We witnessed self-preservation, self-indulgence, and self-adulation as many turned to social media to sew discontent in our leadership. The preying on the already anxious and apprehensive, the spreading of false information became a way of life. Instead of turning to God and loving neighbours as self, the virus spawned the opportunity for evil to thrive.

To face what the world has become, we need to empty ourselves and become followers of Christ and servants of each other. To be a witness to others, we first need to place our trust in the Good Shepherd. It means getting to the point where we don’t even lift a finger on any activity or thought without surrendering control to Jesus. When we take our hands entirely off our lives and imitate Christ in our thoughts, actions, words, and opinions of others, we will realize that we don’t need more “things” in our lives; instead, we make do with what we have so that we have more to share with others.


This abundant life that the Good Shepherd Jesus died to give us causes us to want to share the good news with others.


So, we want to talk “Jesus” to those who will listen. This change of lifestyle is made possible by the Holy Spirit’s activity, which gives us a new spirit in tune with God’s purpose.

Daily we can go before the Lord and pour out our worries, anxieties, and fears at His feet. We should declare His promises for blessings of peace and strength over our life. We can listen for His voice. We can ask God to bring peace into our soul that passes all worldly understanding so we can be a light for others to see God’s strength.

Take Time to Be Still

On one of Jesus’ visits to the Temple, he expressed His anger as to what the Temple had become. The gospel of Matthew tells us in “Matthew 21:13”. He was frustrated that the Temple had become a business within a place of worship and that the hustle and bustle were drowning out God’s voice.

The world around us is noisy, and there seems no solitude from its noise. Even our churches are loud. However, that does not mean we can’t hear God or find Him or that we condemn church facilities. What it means is we need to be more intentional in our efforts to seek and praise Him. Maybe today, you can isolate yourself and spend some quiet time to hear God whisper to you. But if that is not possible, be comforted in knowing that He is with us no matter where we are as a follower of Christ. With your body/temple, become a house of prayer today.

  1. Set aside a minimum of 15 minutes (increase the time as you can). Set a timer to help you be less concerned about when you are to stop.
  2. Select a location where you will not be disturbed or distracted and then settle into a comfortable position.
  3. Intentionally place yourself in the presence of God.
  4. Choose a simple word or verse of scripture that expresses your desire for God (e.g. love, peace, grace, Saviour, great shepherd). Let this word or phrase guard your attention.
  5. Take time to be quiet. It is not unusual for your first few minutes to be filled with noisy thoughts about activities in your life, family, work etc. Don’t worry about these thoughts and do not focus on them. Let them go and gently return your attention to God’s presence and love by repeating your sacred word. When your thoughts wander, let them drop and don’t go after them. Don’t focus or think about them.  Let them go and gently return your attention to God’s presence and love by repeating your sacred word.
  6. Rest in the center of God and trust the Holy Spirit who abides in the depths of your spirit to connect you with God.
  7. Take several minutes to come out of prayer. Don’t just end. Don’t hurry and breathe in the presence of God. Offer yourself to God for the task that awaits you (e.g. say “I am yours” or “Remain with me”).

Below is a link to help you set your time with God in Silence from Emotionally Healthy Discipleship. This 15-minute experience was created to provide a guided experience to help people integrate the spiritual practice of silence into their daily relationship with Jesus. Originally used in a sermon by Pete Scazzero at New Life Fellowship Church in 2010, it has since been expanded and revised to its present form. Enjoy!
Breathe: Being with God in Silence
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5_vOr6mPCA&t=453s