From the Basement to the Throne Room: The Power of Hearing Your Name

ALICE KIM|GUEST In the spring of 2020, my parents were planning a road trip from Toronto, Canada to visit me and my family in Virginia. Then COVID-19 suddenly halted their plans, putting an indefinite pause to our reunion. Now, it’s been almost two and a half years since we’ve seen them; we’re still eagerly anticipating their visit. During this in-between time, phone calls and texts serve as substitutes for face-to-face interactions. Memories of my parents   have moved to the forefront of remembrance and reminiscing, including those of my mom and dad praying. My Parent's Prayers After twelve plus hours of being on their feet, preparing meals at their local eatery or punching the cash register at a one-stop convenience store, my mom would prepare one of her go-to, from scratch meals: a Korean stew, a pot of steaming rice, and an assortment of staple side dishes. My dad’s footsteps would echo past the wooden hallway, down into the basement. He would find a spot on the carpet. Without restraint, a roar started from within his chest then reverberated down into his stomach. On his exhale, he cried aloud, “Lord!” “Lord!” “Lord!” in Korean. His pleas of utter dependence were balanced with moments of silence. He made room for tears to express his gratitude and grief. And as his voice carried through the air vents leading up into my room, I laid over the edge of my bed, leaned in with my ear inches away from the ground. I just listened. My mom on the other hand, was less pronounced. I would call out for her, “Umma” and find her in the walk-in closet with her back facing the open doorframe. She didn’t budge and break focus; she continued. The top of her foot and knees kissed the ground as her body rocked rhythmically back and forth. Each word bled into the next and created a harmonious alto hum. If you paid close attention, you could hear the distinct groans, desires, and thanksgivings. Rather than retracing my steps back into the hallway, I lingered. I listened for my name. It’s been a long time since my dad’s booming crescendos and mom’s soft murmurs contributed to my daily concert of background noise, but it doesn’t take much imagination to hear them once again. And when they tell me, “I’m praying for you and your family,” I can see them praying for me as they did when I was a child...

From the Basement to the Throne Room: The Power of Hearing Your Name2022-05-04T23:24:44+00:00

Prayers for Our Children

KATHLEEN NIELSON|GUEST Editor's Note: The following article includes excerpts from Prayers of a Parent (P&R, June 2021), used with permission. Praying for the children of the church is a church-wide job. Congregations often stand up and promise to help parents nurture a child in the fear and admonition of the Lord—and that includes praying for that child. I look back through years of parenting and see the church continually and prayerfully flanking our family, and I thank God for his people all along the way. We believers can help one another in praying for our children. That’s one reason I wrote the volumes of Prayers of a Parent: simply to encourage fellow Christian parents in Bible-based prayers for the various aspects of our children’s lives, in every different stage. I needed that encouragement from others, and still do. We can join our prayers together in a chorus for the generations coming after us. They need our prayers. Shared Words of Prayer Why write down our prayers? I often think of the prophet Hosea’s call to the people of Israel: “Take with you words and return to the Lord” (14:2). It’s easy to pray without giving our full attention. It’s easy for many of us to pray inarticulate prayers that are something like floating clouds of scattered thoughts. Sometimes it’s just a quick, muttered “Thank you” or “Help me,” and God surely hears and understands such prayers. But when we read many of the prayers of Scripture (the psalmists’, for example, or the apostle Paul’s), we learn the beauty of prayers developed in thoughtful, intentional words. Now, we can use Scripture’s prayers to pray; that is one of God’s gracious provisions in his Word. What a gift—perfect words that help and teach us to pray. But the Bible’s prayers also teach us the good pattern of prayer: taking regular time and effort to put the praises and petitions of our hearts into words that we bring into God’s presence, in the name of Jesus our Savior. We can help each other practice this good process, with spoken and written words shaped by his Word. Shared Benefits of Prayer Practicing together this process of articulating prayers, specifically for our children, is good for our children and good for our own souls. Christian parenting, as we all know, involves a lifelong releasing of our children into the hands of our Father in heaven, who made them, knows them, and loves them perfectly. As we offer words of prayer to our Father, our hearts trust him more and more, and our hands loosen their grip to give our children into his perfect providential care. Sharing our prayers is not a quick or casual process. And of course everyone uses words differently; that’s part of the beauty of coming together with diverse voices that blend, instruct, and encourage. The Spirit and the Word bind us together as we pray, because we share faith in the living Lord Jesus who took our sins, died in our place, and rose from the dead, as the Scriptures tell us....

Prayers for Our Children2022-05-04T23:15:46+00:00

Remember to Pray

SHERRY LANIER|GUEST COVID pandemic. Wow! This virus which was unknown until recent days has changed our daily life. It has an impact on everything we do. ‘Did you bring your mask?’ ‘Did you check to see if this business is still open?’ ‘Did you make a reservation for church?’ All of these questions and many more reflect our new reality. Yet, all that COVID has brought has not been negative. This new reality has also caused us to have new schedules that, for the most part, have given us more time to think, reflect, and remember. To remember is ‘to call back to mind what we once knew.’ For every believer, the importance and priority of prayer is something we have always known. But for many of us, we have had days where the busy-ness of a filled schedule has squeezed out prayer or reduced it to a last resort, used only when we have exhausted ourselves. During these pandemic days, I've had the opportunity to stop and remember much. A renewed excitement about the opportunity to pray has been sweet. Reflecting over those times where the Lord has answered prayers in ways that were amazing and miraculous has brought a renewed joy and excitement about prayer. Praying through this current season and for what lies ahead reminds me of my hope in Christ in all things. Three Truths to Remember About Prayer The excitement and motivation to pray has grown for me as I have reflected on a few things about prayer; that prayer is a privilege, an opportunity, and a lifestyle. First, prayer is a privilege made possible by the sacrificial work of Christ. A privilege is defined as ‘a special right’ or ‘a special honor.’ When we engage in prayer, we have the privilege of entering into the presence of God in a special way; that way, the ONLY way, is through our Redeeming Savior, Jesus Christ Who is ‘the Way, the Truth, and the Life’ (Jn. 14:6). We pray in His Name as He has broken down the veil through His perfect life, sacrificial death, and life-giving resurrection which makes our opportunity of praying possible. Through Him we have been given access to the very Throne of Grace so that we might ‘find our source of help in time of need’ (Heb. 4:16).  Second, prayer is an opportunity to join our Father with what He is doing...

Remember to Pray2022-05-04T23:13:16+00:00

Abiding in Prayer

As Christian women, it is quite natural that questions arise in our hearts and minds concerning our prayer life. Like the disciples, we want to ask Jesus “teach me to pray.” We wonder what “pray without ceasing” could look like, whether we are honoring God, and whether we should find some new method.  Jesus’ disciples were still learning how to pray; Jesus was patient in instructing them. This lets us know that our desire to learn more about prayer is healthy, and He delights to teach us as well. Today we will look at how abiding in Christ can help us find answers to these questions. Two particular passages from the Gospel of John speak to our heart’s desire to learn more about prayer: John 8:31-32 “So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed in Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth and the truth will make you free.”  John 15:5-8 “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather then, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.”  We continue in His word. As we continue, His word finds a place in us. We read, we muse upon His word, we remember it and believe it, and as Paul told the Thessalonians, His word works powerfully in us (see 1 Thessalonians 2:13). In us, in our inner self. This means we should notice the impact of abiding in His word in our thought life, in our desires, in our conscience. As we patiently continue, His truth sets us free from focusing too much on self. His truth will push out fears and doubts that would otherwise hold us back from prayer...

Abiding in Prayer2022-05-04T23:57:04+00:00

Bearing Fruit Where We Are Planted

My husband and I are retired, so over the past few months of self-quarantining, we have received offers for various types of help. Neighbors called to see if we needed anything done around the house. Friends’ children who live near us offered to do shopping. Our own children checked in on us regularly to see how we were doing, sometimes leaving suggestions for good movies or TV shows to watch to pass the time. Where Daniel Was Planted Thankful as we are for all this attention, it confirms that we were now considered among the “old-and- at-risk” population. One day I was listening to a podcast series about Daniel and it struck me anew that Daniel was in my same age category when he was thrown into the lion’s den. Wow! At the same age that I am stuck in my house watching TV reruns, Daniel was standing up for his convictions by publicly praying to the one true God. He refused to compromise his spiritual life after colleagues unfairly duped king Darius into issuing his proclamation prohibiting worship of all gods except himself. Daniel knew how to respond to unfair treatment. He thanked God despite the injustice. I went back and studied Daniel with a new perspective. Daniel flourished where he was planted. God placed him in Babylon as a young man where he lived with determination not to conform to the ways of the world, but obeying God, trusting Him, and purposing his heart to turn from sin. The entire book of Daniel confirms the blessings of knowing God. Daniel was a man of prayer, regular and disciplined in his worship habits. He knew that God hears and honors the prayers of the faithful. Daniel trusted God’s Word to the end of his life and as a prophet, God allowed him to interpret dreams for the Babylonian kings. Bearing Fruit Where We Are Planted This spurred my thinking. I have been planted in a house without visitors. I am healthy (though admittedly slowing down), experienced in life, willing to work, but seemingly now without much purpose. Surely God has some unique work for those of us stuck at home...

Bearing Fruit Where We Are Planted2022-05-05T00:20:44+00:00

A Prayer for Abiding in Christ

“Get rooted.” It’s a quiet whisper the Holy Spirit impresses upon my heart when my mind starts to spiral or I’m tempted to react irritability or angrily to my outward circumstances, namely my kids. I’m thankful for this kind, yet bold reminder that stems from Isaiah 26:3 – “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts you.” I’ve ruminated on the gospel of Mark quite a bit lately. A major theme I’ve noticed is the crowd that follows Jesus, literally, everywhere, day and night, constantly pressing in with their needs. I’ve noticed that Jesus responds quite differently than I tend to – He has pity, He shows compassion, and mostly, He stays at peace. Even their constant need, and I mean constant need (check out Mark chapter 1), doesn’t disturb His inner peace. It doesn’t disturb Him abiding in the Father’s love. Anybody else have a posse of little kids? You can quickly relate to the constant following, the never-ending need, and even franticness when they think the need will not be met. And yet, Jesus.  Sometimes I think it’s easy to forget that Jesus was not only fully God, but also fully man. The author of Hebrews reminds us that Jesus was made like us, in every respect: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16; also see Hebrews 1:10-18)....

A Prayer for Abiding in Christ2022-05-05T00:28:37+00:00

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

The florist shop in my hometown has been there for decades, an establishment owned by a woman who has a real gift for flower arranging. She also quietly practices her faith using her floral business as a platform to inform her customers of prayer needs for those in our community. Our florist knows first-hand the significant events in many of the locals’ lives. She has prepared flowers for births, proms, weddings, get-well wishes, and funerals, so she has a unique perspective into the major events in the lives of her customers. Next to the cash register in her shop hangs a small blackboard with two columns: one column for first names, and a second column for a one-or two-word prayer request. On a weekly basis, she types up these prayer requests and has them available for anyone who wants to take the list home. The lists are gone by the end of the week. These prayer requests have weighed heavily on my heart as I consider the needs of my neighbors: a diagnosis of cancer, a troubled marriage, financial problems, a stillborn child. As astounding to me as the tremendous needs are in my own neighborhood, it is even more astounding that every week random neighbors who enter the florist shop take the list home as a prompt to pray for their neighbors. Many, maybe even most, don’t know the people they are praying for personally. There is no specific church affiliation, no details of the prayer request, no last name of the person who needs prayer, just a quiet prompt for those willing to pray for a neighbor in secret. Jesus instructed His disciples about praying in secret. “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matt 6:5-6) Who knows the effects these prayers in secret have had on those in need!...

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?2022-05-05T00:33:42+00:00

Encouragement and Prayers for the Graduates in Your Life

For many of our youngsters this graduation season, masks and sanitizer are replacing caps and gowns; e-certificates will arrive online instead of sheepskin diplomas. This cohort of youth make up the “coronials,” who are stepping forth into a future that seems even more uncertain than in other years. How to walk with them as they pass this unique milestone? Here are some suggestions, with prayers to offer on behalf of our children, nieces and nephews, students or others who are graduating from high school or college. 1. Honor their work, not their honors. Without the trappings of prom, commencement, and senior hoopla, some kids will feel deprived. Some were preparing for final performances, tournaments, recitals, capstone projects, or internships that have evaporated. Maybe there will be a belated official celebration rather than one in May, but it probably won’t feel like what was once anticipated. They may be questioning the relevance of their achievements to this new landscape.  Commend them on the discipline and skills they developed, which in God’s timing will benefit them beyond the short-term goal they were focused on. Studies have shown that praise is more encouraging when it is accompanied by a touch, and when it is specific—so (if you are in their household), give them a pat on the back for the laborious research they did on their term paper, or how they didn’t give up on basketball in sophomore year. That will be more effective than generalities like, “You always do whatever you set your mind to,” or “You’re so smart; you’ll be fine.” Of course, a special home-centered celebration may be more important than in other years. Solicit e-congratulations from relatives, your pastor, even your mayor and Congress member. Or how about decorating the family car with congratulatory washable graffiti, or making a scrapbook of school memorabilia? Maybe planting a tree in honor of the graduate would be meaningful for him or her. Lord of all times and seasons, please establish the works of these youngsters’ hands. Use this unexpected time to bring forth more creativity and resilience in their character. Holy Spirit, you so often bring joy and unity: help me to honor our graduates in memorable ways....

Encouragement and Prayers for the Graduates in Your Life2022-05-05T00:47:35+00:00
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