Last Wednesday, I gave a short devotional at Lebanon Road about praying to God for the same thing over and over again. We have all done it before, but sometimes, I think we feel as if we are annoying God or that it is useless to just keep expressing the same things, even if they are burdening our heart.
As is often the case, though, my children helped me out on this one.
Mary Carol showed me something in her room over the weekend that was so precious. It was a little chart that she got, I’m guessing from her Bible class. It had the names of the seven days of the week across the top, and she had a packet of shiny star stickers underneath it.
What was it for? It was a chart to help her remember to pray for our missionaries. Each time she prayed for them, she was to put a little star on the chart. Just on Saturday, there were already three stars.
“Three times in one day?” I asked, “That’s great!”
Her response was simple, but showed the kind of child-like faith that I need far more often: “Yeah, that’s what God wants. It’s good to pray a lot.”
It’s good to pray a lot.
How simple is that! But how true it is!
What is it that is on your heart, but you’ve not taken to God’s throne in some time? What decision or concern did you use to pray about, but now just don’t think God’s listening?
He is listening. His timetable and purposes may confound us, but He is listening. After all, He is our Father, and desires to hear from His children.
Paul the apostle put it this way: “Pray without ceasing.”
My 7-year-old gave her own interpretation: “It’s good to pray a lot.”
QUESTION: What prayer requests do you have? Let’s build a list in the comments and pray for each other today!
We are to put all things before God’s throne in prayer. Christians understand that. But, let’s be honest, nearly all of us get into a “rut,” and pray for certain things at certain times of the year.
I struggle in that way, too.
But today I’m making an extra effort to pray for three things that are a bit “out of season.” Here they are:
1. College students. Yes, they are in school, but we often only pray for them as the semester starts and then again around finals week. But they continue to face difficulty and temptation throughout their days and weeks in school. Pray for them today!
2. Military. I’ll be honest, I neglect our military in prayer far too often. It is easy to remember them on 9/11, July 4, or holidays. But we need to remember them in prayer often and regularly. Why not pray for them today?
3. Friends on Social Media. It is easy to get frustrated with certain status updates, or to be concerned by others. I have seen a few in the last two or three days that have really caused me concern. Some I have contacted (or attempted to). Others I am not that close to. But I can pray for them. I can pray that I have just “mis-read” what is said and that nothing serious is going on. I can pray that, if something serious is occurring, it will improve.
One of my resolutions for 2010 was to keep an updated prayer list. I didn’t do so hot, so I “rolled” that resolution over to 2011. So far, not so good, but I haven’t given up on it yet!
To help me out, I sat down recently and made a quick list of some of the things that I need to take before God every day. Here are some of the things I thought about.
1. My marriage. Leah is a precious gift, but marriages don’t work unless those in them work! I don’t want a “good enough” marriage. I want an off-the-charts-wow-this-is-amazing marriage, and God can do that!
2. My children–by name! Mary Carol and Turner are each precious and they are individuals. I need to pray for their “Luke 2:52 development” every day! And, tied to this, I need to pray that I am the kind of dad that helps them grow in those areas.
3. My other family. I don’t need to wait until there is a struggle or a triumph. I need to pray for parents, in-laws, and others every day. They are so special to me, and I want them to remain faithful to their families and to the Lord.
4. Lebanon Road. I pray for the congregation not just because “I work there,” but because it is our church home. I want our elders to remain men who are true to God’s Word and to being true shepherds. I want our teachers and preachers to focus on training us all for greater works. I want every member to be faithful and working in the kingdom.
5. My struggles. Yes, I have them. We all do. Preachers aren’t exempt from bad days and from temptation! God can help me with it all, and part of that help is to take it to Him in prayer.
6. The lost–in general and by name. I have some for whom I pray specifically at times. I also need to pray that I as a preacher and friend, and that Lebanon Road as a congregation, will reach as many “unknown” (to me) as possible every day.
7. Thanksgiving. God is so good. While there are struggles in life, He has given me more than I ever deserved. I’m so glad and thankful, but I need to do better about expressing it.
Specifics prayer “topics” may come and go, but it is my goal to inculcate these 7 things more deeply into my prayer life. Prayer has always been hard for me (I don’t really know why), but I’m trying.
Help me take more to you in prayer. Thank you for listening, caring, and answering as You see best.
[NOTE: Each Thursday, we reflect on a hymn, usually ones that are suggested by our readers. If you would like to add your favorites to our list, leave a comment with up to three suggestions and we'll write about it in the future.]
Nearing its 200th birthday, the hymn “Prince of Peace, Control My Will” continues to be sung as a simple, but insightful prayer to God for His guidance in our lives. Another blog writer gives this good history of the song:
The text was written by Mary Ann Serrett Barber, who was born in England in 1801, the daughter of Thomas Barber. During her life, she had many poems published in the Church of England Magazine, and she also authored several books. This hymn was first printed as a poem, probably anonymously, in the March 3, 1838, edition of the Church of England Magazine, entitled “He Is Our Peace.” At one time, it was erroneously attributed to another hymnwriter who lived about the same time, Mary Stanley Bunce Palmer Dana Schindler (1810-1883). The poem originally consisted of four eight-line stanzas. In the present four-stanza version of the hymn most commonly found today, there are a number of excisions, transpositions, and other alterations.
Exactly who made such changes is unknown. Miss Barber died at Brighton, England, on March 9, 1864 (some sources say 1884, though this is unlikely), and her autobiography, Bread Winning: or, The Ledger and the Lute, an Autobiography, was published posthumously in 1865. The tune (Hatfield) used in most of our books was composed by W. T. Porter. No information is available on this composer. The date sometimes given for its composition is 1874. It first appeared with Barber’s text in 1882 in The Christian Hymnal, Revised: A Collection of Hymns and Tunes for Congregational and Social Worship, published by the American Christian Missionary Society through Bosworth, Chase, and Hall in Cincinnati, OH. This was the last revision of the hymnal series started by Alexander Campbell in 1828.
In my opinion, what has kept this song in regular usage after all these years is its simplicity. The actual message of the hymn is profound. It is a deeply emotional song, admitting our dependence upon Christ and our willingness to lay our lives at His feet. However, to state that poetically yet simply is a gift, and this 8-line song has that.
Often in our lives, it seems as though things are out of control, yet we try to take control ourselves. After some time, though, we realize that we cannot do it all ourselves; that there are far too many variables completely out of our hands. Eventually, we must come to the point where we either give those things over to Christ and find the peace that only He can give, or let our lives spiral even more out of control.
My favorite line in the hymn is in the 3rd verse, which ends with the words, “Chase these doubtings from my heart; Now Thy perfect peace impart.” Isn’t that the answer? It may be simply stated, but that is the answer to our struggles.
Here are the lyrics to this wonderful prayer song:
Prince of peace, control my will;
Bid this struggling heart be still:
Bid my fears and doubtings cease:
Hush my spirit into peace.
Thou hast bought me with Thy blood,
Opened wide the gate to god;
Peace I ask, but peace must be,
Lord, in being one with Thee.
May Thy will, not mine be done;
May Thy will and mine be one;
Chase these doubtings from my heart,
Now Thy perfect peace impart.
Savior, at Thy feet I fall,
Thou, my life, my God, my all;
Let Thy happy servant be
One forevermore with Thee.
As you leave comments on this song, enjoy this video from Harding University, as a chorus sings “Prince of Peace, Control My Will.”
I would like to thank Tim Hill, a deacon at Lebanon Road, for showing me this story. He mentioned it in our Bible class Sunday morning, then sent me the information when I said I’d like to share it through the blog. Thanks, brother!
One of the changes that many people have seen in our society over the past several years is the removal of Christianity from public areas. Many reminisce about days when someone led a prayer over the public address system to start the days of school, and prayer was also publicly practiced in many other areas of life.
When I was a teenager, I still remember someone leading a prayer before the football games over the P.A. system. Often, my dad was the one leading those prayers for the safety of the players and for the fans to remember their sportsmanship. Slowly and methodically, though, that has been taken away from many (in fact, most) public schools.
Recently a school in East Tennessee was forced to stop having public prayers before their football games. Soddy Daisy High School was told to stop having these prayers by The Freedom from Religion group, based in Madison, Wisconsin. If you have never heard of FfR (as they call themselves), the group, according to their own website, “works to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism, and to promote the constitutional principle of separation between church and state.” The group has a grand total of 15,500 members, but is able, through that small membership of self-described “free thinkers,” able to get religion out of many public arenas.
So, that group decided to get involved with a school from East Tennessee and its decision to continue praying over the public address system before football games. After that involvement, the school backed down. CBS affiliate WDEF-TV ran the following story to share the reaction to the decision:
A challenge to public prayer at Soddy Daisy High School Football games leads to the end of the tradition.
Superintendent Jim Scales gave the order.
There can be no more prayer over the loudspeaker at athletic events or graduation ceremonies in the district.
It doesn’t sit well with a lot of people.
The next time the Soddy Daisy Trojans hit the field at home, there will be no prayer over the P.A. system.
Rose Secrest is a local member of Freedom From Religion Foundation. She says, ”People shouldn’t be doing it so stop doing it.”
The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation challenged the tradition after it says students brought the practice to its attention.
The group calls it a breach of the Frist Amendment.
Michael Peralta is also a local member of Freedom From Religion Foundation. He says, “There have been many Supreme Court decisions that have established firmly that these are blatant violations.”
Katelyn Melton, a student at nearby ,Sequoyah High School says, ”It really sickens me.”
But even with prayer over the loudspeaker silenced, students like Katelyn Melton expect even more outspoken communication with God.
Melton says “I think at the next football game, if they ban prayer, I think there will be a loud uproar of kids trying and praying in front of people and that will definitely grab someone’s attention.”
The issue has captured a lot of attention since coming to light. Katelyn’s Pastor Jeff McKnight even got a call from Fox News.
He takes issue with an-out-of-town group complaining about a local practice.
Pastor Jeff McKnight, Family Pastor at First Baptist Church in Soddy Daisy says, ”If we do believe that God is part of our schools, part of our lives, we take that prayer to a public event, we’re not trying to put other people’s beliefs down, but it does feel that they’re trying to put our beliefs down and keep our mouths shut.”
A couple of local school board members were open about their beliefs on praying at games.
Jeffrey Wilson, School Board Member, “We’ve got children playing sports and certainly the concern is for the safety of the young people. I think as long again as we’re not trying to convert people to any particular belief we just want our kids to be safe. I don’t have any problem with it.”
Joe Galloway, School Board Member, “The first amendment’s only valid if it’s freedom of speech for everyone and there are people that consider praying at public events a part of that. I happen to be one of those. I hear offensive language every day and because people live in America I have to listen to that.”
A student-led rally is planned at Soddy Daisy Veterans Park next Wednesday from 5 to 7p.m.
After the Freedom From Religion group of Madison, Wis., protested, County School Supt. Dr. Jim Scales instructed Soddy Daisy High School Principal John Maynard to no longer have prayers over the loudspeaker prior to football games.
Mr. Maynard said he would comply.
However, last Friday night, Soddy Daisy High School was playing a road game at Rhea County High School, and the host school had heard of the decision. A fan was asked to describe what happened. Here is what he stated:
The stadium announcer made a respectful remark that everyone should be aware of what had taken place in the Hamilton County School system this week and to honor Dr. Jim Scales’ wishes they were asking anyone who wished to participate that they could meet on the field with the players of both teams for prayer.
So, you can imagine how few people took the inconvenience to walk down to the field from their seats “just” to say a prayer, right? Well, thankfully, one fan recorded it and has uploaded the video to YouTube. A young lady led the prayer (yes, that’s another blog post) while almost no one remained in the stands!
Unless you are a member of the Freedom From Religion group, you will probably enjoy this video:
I think there are several things to take away from this story, but I want to share just one and you and ask you to provide other reactions and lessons in the comments.
My takeaway is that there are still plenty of people out there who are proud to be Christians and who will stand for what they believe. I wish the Soddy Daisy principal would have just said, “That’s what we do, and that’s what we will continue to do.” I am tired of seeing people cave under pressure from law suits or other threats.
While it is not “necessary” to pray before any sporting event, it is still a good practice. I’m thankful that, for one night, two schools remembered that and reminded us all to continue to be open and public with our faith in Christ.