National Day of Prayer

national-day-of-prayer

Today is National Day of Prayer. It’s a good time for me to post my personal favorite prayer. But since I have quite a few, I thought, what the heck, why not post all of them? 🙂

Grant me, O Lord, a mind to know you, a heart to seek you, wisdom to find you, conduct pleasing to you, faithful perseverance in waiting for you, and a hope of finally embracing you.

St. Thomas Aquinas

 Let us therefore give ourselves to God with a great desire to begin to live thus, and beg him to destroy in us the life of the world of sin, and to establish his life within us.

St. John Eudes

Say to him: Jesus, look upon the stones, the thorns,and the weeds that I have, but look also upon this small piece of ground that I offer to you so that the seed may enter my hearts.

Allow it to grow, and God will nurture it.

Pope Francis

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

Psalm 139:23-24

Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again – My Savior and My God! 

Psalm 42:5

Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do no lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them. Everyday begin the task anew. 

St. Francis de Sales

Fit In Your Faith Today: Take 5 minutes to pray on this National Day of Prayer. Pick one or a few or even all of the prayers I listed above or seek out your own favorite prayer. Offer it up to someone that needs your intention today. You could pray for the leaders in office, you could pray for someone in your family or a close friend, you could pray for the Nepal earthquake victims or you could pray for a certain social justice issue to be resolved. As they saying goes, “Pray for those who don’t believe in Jesus. They need it the most.”

And the Spirit is Truth

1 John 5:1-6

Beloved:
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God,
and everyone who loves the Father
loves also the one begotten by him.
In this way we know that we love the children of God
when we love God and obey his commandments.
For the love of God is this,
that we keep his commandments.
And his commandments are not burdensome,
for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world.
And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.
Who indeed is the victor over the world
but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

This is the one who came through water and blood, Jesus Christ,
not by water alone, but by water and blood.
The Spirit is the one that testifies,
and the Spirit is truth.

I had the privilege of reading this passage from the first letter of Saint John yesterday at Divine Mercy Sunday mass. It stuck with me most of the day as I thought about these beautiful words. Each line is so important and so inspiring. You can reflect easily on just one sentence to take with you throughout your day.

One line in particular is interesting to me because I heard it spoken by Catholic Speaker Patty Schneier in her talk, “Prove it, God!…He did!” 

She laments over the line “And his commandments are not burdensome…” In fact, she did think that some of his commandments were burdensome and thus, struggled to find herself thinking otherwise. But after a few weeks of prayerful reflection every morning and encountering the book “Good News about Sex and Marriage” by Christopher West, she concluded that his commandments are not burdensome. (She was speaking specifically about the sin of contraception). She was just looking at them through a stubborn lens. After reading more about the Catholic Church and the Catechesis, she discovered a whole other world and changed her mind completely about particular commandments that she had found once to be “old fashioned” and “silly.” So when I read that line I pictured and heard Patty’s voice coming through and I was so glad she had changed her mind about this.

But the conclusion is also very poignant. “The Spirit is truth.”

Yes, the Spirit is the one that testifies, that speaks the truth. Jesus Christ is this truth. I think it’s easy to forget this in our secular life. We go searching for the truth when it’s been right in front of us all along. We might be stubborn, we might feel set in our ways, we might not want to know the truth. But there it is:

“I am the way, the truth, and the life.” John 14:6

Fit in Your Faith Today: What “truth” are you struggling to believe? What commandments do you find burdensome? How can you look at the commandments or seek the truth through a different “lens?”

Their Hardened Hearts

Mark 8:14-21

The disciples had forgotten to bring bread,
and they had only one loaf with them in the boat.
Jesus enjoined them, “Watch out,
guard against the leaven of the Pharisees
and the leaven of Herod.”
They concluded among themselves that
it was because they had no bread.
When he became aware of this he said to them,
“Why do you conclude that it is because you have no bread?
Do you not yet understand or comprehend?
Are your hearts hardened?
Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear?
And do you not remember,
when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand,
how many wicker baskets full of fragments you picked up?”
They answered him, “Twelve.”
“When I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand,
how many full baskets of fragments did you pick up?”
They answered him, “Seven.”
He said to them, “Do you still not understand?”

From the New Life Study Bible:

Jesus rebuked the disciples for their hard hearts. Today the Hardhearts believe:

(1) that poverty is always caused by laziness; helping the poor only enables them;

(2) that worship is best conducted in one way- our way- which has worked very well for forty years, thank you, and need not be changed;

(3) that evangelism doesn’t apply; people will never change anyways, so we don’t need to do it. Joining the Hardhearts requires only one pledge; you must refuse to listen to Jesus’ questions. Don’t be a hardheart. Be open to Christ’s truth. Let him soften your heart.

Fit In Your Faith Today: Do you allow Christ to “soften” your heart? It’s difficult to accept new ways of thinking. It’s hard to believe in God all the time. What’s EASY is the opposite: To believe in nothing; to think that change is not possible with any one or any thing; that evangelism can soften a heart or two. Shift your way of thinking and accept that your once hardened heart, is now softening for the love of Christ.

 

The Gift

“What we are is God’s gift to us. What we become is our gift to God.”

-Eleanor Powell

Fit in Your Faith Today: Do you think of your life as a gift from God? What can you do to show others that you are special and that life is precious?

Running the Race of Faith

Hebrews 12:1-2

New Living Translation:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now, he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.

Good News Translation:

As for us, we have this large crowd of witnesses around us. So then, let us rid ourselves of everything that gets in the way, and of the sin which holds on to us tightly, and let us run with determination the race that lies before us. Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from beginning to end. He did not give up because of the cross! On the contrary, because of the joy that was waiting for him, he thought nothing of the disgrace of dying on the cross, and he is now seated at the right side of God’s throne.

There are many takeaways from this passage from Hebrews:

1. We are not alone in our struggle to stay faithful to God. The large crowd of witnesses are the people who came before us. We can think of them as up in the heavens, cheering us on in our “race.” They crossed the finish line a long time ago, but they haven’t forgotten about the rest of us. And we shouldn’t forget about them!

2. The “weights” that hold us back are difficult to let go. But we can pray for the strength to leave them behind. Once they are gone from our lives, we’ll finish our race stronger and lighter. The burden of these sins, these addictions, these people in our lives who don’t fit in with our faith have to be let go.

3. There’s no giving up. We might become discouraged at times because our circumstances get too hard, because life is unfair and because we might become persecuted or “unfriended” due to our beliefs. Jesus didn’t give up. We can’t expect to be as strong as our Savior, but we can think of the way he died for us as a reminder that as tough as we think our lives are, they can’t compare to the live and death of Jesus. We aren’t expected to be Saviors, but we can live our life as close to Christ-like as we can.

Fit In Your Faith Today: What weights are holding you back from finishing your race of faith?  Think of ways you can lighten your load, running towards the finish line with faith-filled endurance for Christ fueling you every step of the way.

Trust in God’s Faithfulness

Lamentations 3:22-23

The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease.

Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.

If we can read this passage every morning, how wonderful our outlook will be!

To know and to understand that the love of the Lord is never-ending, to know that His mercy is ongoing, that is faithfulness is great and his mercies begin afresh each day! That’s quite the boost of confidence in our Lord. We NEED to read this and believe this everyday, don’t we?

Looking at the context of this passage through the New Life Study Bible, we are uplifted even more: Jeremiah saw one ray of hope in all the sin and sorrow surrounding him. God willingly responds with help when we ask.

How many people believe that? How many people understand that? Maybe there’s an area of your life that you think is destined to become a permanent sin in your life. Maybe it’s an addiction. Maybe it’s an abusive relationship. Maybe it’s just a poor attitude about something or someone. You can ask God to take away this burden. To help you get out of a situation. To help you steer toward a path of mercy and “steadfast love.”

Fit In Your Faith Today: Start your morning off with this passage from Lamentations. Ask yourself if you believe in God’s faithfulness and forgiveness. Understand that every day is a new opportunity for you to grow in your faith and love of the Lord.

 

The sheep of His flock

Psalm 100:3

Acknowledge that the Lord is God. He made us, and we belong to him; We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

From the New Life Study Bible: God is our Creator; we did not create ourselves. Many people live as though they are the creator and center of their own little world. This mind-set leads to pride, greed, idolatry, and if everything should be taken away, a loss of hope itself, But when we realize that God created us and gives us all we have, we will want to give to others as God gave to us. Then, even if all is lost, we still have God and all he gives us.

Just as it was discussed in past posts this week, we belong to God. But the first line in this Psalm has a powerful commandment: That we must acknowledge that the Lord is God. We are commanded to believe that this is the truth. Equally important is the commentary from the study bible which says We did not create ourselves.

There are plenty of non-believers in the world. Some believe in a force, some believe in a creator but some of those same people don’t acknowledge that the Lord is God and that we were created by Him. It’s difficult to relate to people who don’t believe in God. I personally have a hard time talking to these people because God is such a huge part of my life. But I respect their opinion although it doesn’t match mine.

Then there are people we might encounter that forget about God and think only of themselves. Pride is a dangerous trait to have. It’s easy to get caught up in the daily hustle and bustle of our lives and forget that God is actually at the center of it, not us. We tend to think in terms of “I” and “myself” and “me.”  What about God? What about “Him” and “Lord” and “Jesus.” Those are the terms we should be thinking in. Those are the best ways to begin a prayer.

You can get rid of the pride and self-centered attitude in your own life by re-reading this passage everyday. Even when you get up in the morning, “Acknowledge that the Lord is God. He created YOU. And He gives you all that you need.”

Fit in Your Faith Today: Start your day – or even if it’s the middle or end of the day – with a prayer that begins with the words “God” or “Lord” or “Jesus.” Remember to acknowledge Him before you mention Yourself. Picture the entire world with God at the center as you go about your day. He is there to help us. We don’t need to rely just on ourselves for help, we have God on our side.