Chapter One: It's You and God


In just a few weeks, Prayer: Simply Breathe goes to print in paperback and on Kindle.  This has been a book I have been passionate about and scared about at the same time.  It is a book I have REALLY wanted to write and one I have felt called deeply to write.  I want to share with you chapter one and it is my hope and prayer, you will join me in supporting the launch.  


Chapter 1: It’s You and God

You are unique. You are “it.” You have “it.” You are the only one who has your “it.” There is not another person in the world like you, and there never has been and never will be another. It seems to me this makes you pretty dad-gum special as we say down south.

If you and I are so special, then God is pretty, dad-gum creative! I mean, if God isn’t making clones of us all, then God is spending a whole lot of effort and energy to make each of us special. And if we think on that a bit more, it must mean God is interested in the uniqueness of each one of us and what we might make of our lives and the world we live in.

I am also under the conviction God is interested in each and every one of us. There is something one of my spiritual teachers, Roberta Bondi, once said that has stuck with me a long time. She said one day, “God doesn’t just love us; God likes us! God really, really likes us!” Her point was the God of all creation wants to hang out with us and enjoy our presence. God wants us to laugh and play, and God enjoys it when we are enjoying God and the world made. God doesn’t just tolerate us or put up with us and love us despite our failures. God likes us!

God likes you.

Now, let that sink in.

And I cannot help but think that if God is so interested in us all being unique and likes us, God must be interested in what is going on in us too. We live in this world through our mental, emotional, and physical selves, but there are many who believe there is a spiritual part of us too. There is a longing deep inside of us. The multitude of religions gives testimony to the search many human beings have been on, trying to understand this longing for God.

Prayer represents one of the primary things we do when it comes to seeking God. Praying is what we call talking to God.

I can remember praying back in 5th grade over a lost magic snake toy. It was a desperation prayer. I had taken it to school against the rules my parents had established. It was a time in my life that I had grown rebellious in a lot of ways. And maybe it was grace or God’s way of sparking hope into my life, but the day after I prayed, the toy was found and returned to me. Kind of a silly story, right? But things that happen when we are young can make life-long impressions, and for me, it was the beginning of a journey with God that is continuing to this day.

While I might wish I could give you a list of prayers God has answered in miraculous ways, I can’t. On one side, I can look at this prayer of a fifth grader that God seemed to answer, and on the other side, I can look back on the prayers for healing for my late wife that God seemed to not answer.

Prayer is the act of turning our mind, our emotions, our body, and our spirit to God. The practice of prayer is a practice of laying aside our worldly worries and cares and turning our whole attention to the presence and heart of God. It doesn’t mean we forget our concerns—for God does care about those—but we release them into the presence of God and trust God with them. In prayer, we encounter and converse with God.

Let’s look a little more intently at the prayers Jesus gave. Jesus’ disciples once noted that John the Baptist had taught his disciples how to pray so they asked Jesus to teach them. In response, Jesus gave them the prayer that today is called “The Lord’s Prayer” or “The Our Father”

“Pray, then, in this way:
Our Father, who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” (Matthew 6:9–13)

But this was not the only thing Jesus had to say about prayer nor was it the only prayer Jesus gave to His disciples that is honored by Christian churches even to this day. Luke records a parable regarding a Pharisee and tax collector that gives us another prayer to consider.

He told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and viewed others with contempt:

“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14)

This prayer became what we know as the Jesus Prayer in the Orthodox tradition of the Christian faith. Jesus would go on to teach many things about prayer as did Paul and other writers of the New Testament. Through the centuries, the desert fathers and mothers, saints, pastors, monks, priests, professors, and popes have all expounded on prayer.

One of those, Bernard of Clarivaux, cut to the core of what prayer really is, what it means and what it does in us. Bernard writes this:

“By prayer we focus the soul in God. And when we focus only on Him, we cut out the distractions of the world and see Him lifted up before the eyes of the soul. And in this state, the Spirit speaks in us so that we discern God’s will - and by this, what is important to God becomes important to us.” 

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Thanks so much for taking time to read this chapter! If you'd like to learn more and get a FREE PDF copy, just sign up for my email list (Look over to the right of the page).  There is a new BONUS gift available now that will be shared in my latest email.   MARK YOUR CALENDAR FOR SEPTEMBER 7!!!





2 comments:

Robin V said...

Awesome read! We have been rebellious since Adam and Eve. God is patient and kind. Thank you, Jedi Pastor!

Jedi Pastor Ken said...

Thanks for reading Robin and for your support! God refuses to give up on us and that is something to be thankful for everyday!

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