Tag Archives: Prayer

Quick Review: The Sacred Enneagram

I continued some of my exploration through the enneagram reading my third enneagram book in as many months. This one was The Sacred Enneagram by Christopher L. Heuertz. 

I’ve shared on the enneagram before with The Road Back to You and Self to Lose, Self to Find so I’ll just add a few elements of what makes this unique. This was by far the most contemplative of the three books, which for some is good and motivating, while for others that’s a more challenging feature of the book.

The book by far, from what I’ve read, goes into a lot of deeper theory on the enneagram and getting into the “science” of it. So there’s some really interesting stuff in there illuminating certain components. However, there really wasn’t as much content and insight into the enneagram as I was hoping because there were large sections of the book more dedicated to contemplative prayer and spirituality in general and as a foundation for the enneagram.  I wasn’t really looking for that in the book and it’s a large part of it. A solid spiritual base is important for any tool like this, but I was looking for more wisdom and practical insight.

The book is an authentic and solid representation of contemplative spirituality, but that’s not really the world I run in so some of the language at times didn’t resonate with me. But I appreciated the fundamental treatment of how each individual must battle certain fundamental sin patterns to find their life fully in Christ.

This book had the strongest section on the background and history and development of the enneagram so I did enjoy that . I found it very interesting. It also had some of the most accurate depictions the type I identify with so that was helpful as well.

I’m not sure I would recommend this unless someone really was into the contemplative spirituality scene given some of the other resources out there, but I did learn things that I did not in the previous two books. So – maybe it depends on your own personality and how you approach life with God.

 

Pre-School Theology: Game 7 Prayers

This entry is part 14 of 14 in the series Pre-School Theology

My daughter, who is in kindergarten now, believes she helped the Cubs win Game 7 of this year’s world series and thus, their first world series since 1908.

While stuck in typical Manila traffic last week on the way home from the kid’s school, she started this conversation.

“Dad. After that other team tied the game, I prayed that the Cubs would win. And then God answered my prayer and the Cubs won.”

My favorite part of this was that we really had had no Cubs related conversation or interaction in the previous week. It was something she wanted me to know.

I would love to know what her motivation was for praying for the Cubs and for letting me know God answered her prayer. Did she do it because she saw her father in an unusually vulnerable and rabid moment and it worried her?  Was it because she knew it was a big deal and important to at least her father and brother?  Something in her wanted a happy ending for the people she cares about so she prayed.

I loved the moment and it was fun to connect over the Cubs. But a great reminder that we need to ground our prayer life on solid theological footing.

Putting aside the fact that God is in fact a Cubs fan 😛 , I decided not to bring up the high likelihood that she had a 6-year-old counterpart in Cleveland praying the exact same thing for the Cleveland Indians.  What about her?

During the World Series I heard a record amount of animistic language from people on all sorts of teams praying to ancestors, former players, God, and who knows what else – attributing everything from good luck to timeline rainfall to the goodwill of long lost relatives and God’s partiality.   I was shocked at how much animism was alive and well in the western sporting domain!

But for now – I’m glad my daughter feels like she had a part in a great moment for me and our family.  In time, we’ll have to break the news that God probably doesn’t care much about our sports teams.

Though if God did care about sports teams, I’m still pretty sure He would care most about the Cubs.   😛

 

Quick Review: Jesus, The Middle Eastern Storyteller

I recently finished another book in Gary Burge’s Ancient Context, Ancient Faith series.  This one was called Jesus, The Middle Eastern Storyteller with the focus being many of the parables that Jesus taught in the gospels.

I really have enjoyed this series because of the cultural insight into the ancient near east and the time of Jesus.  This edition of the series added helpful insight to the ways in which Jesus captivated people through stories.  The book is grouped into topical storytelling themes that illustrate some of how Jesus tried to convey powerful teaching into contextualized stories.

The chapters focus on the banquet and excuses, hospitality and honor related to prayer (Luke 11), compassion, forgiveness, materialism and inheritance, the lost and general storytelling in the culture.

My favorite chapters related to prayer (Luke 11), excuses and the Kingdom of God (Luke 14), and forgiveness (Matthew 18).  All three of these chapters brought such great cultural insight into the text that provided a deeper and more robust interpretation and reading that have stayed with me over the past week since reading them and will shape my spiritual formation and understanding of these areas of faith.  I had not read Luke 14 with the honor and shame categories before and applied to the literary context of prayer.  It really has built my confidence in prayer.

If you want to go deeper into some of the parables from a cultural and literary standpoint, it’s worth checking it out.  I’m really enjoying the series.

 

The Praying Prophet

This entry is part 11 of 12 in the series Prophets or Posers

Several years ago I started a blog series called prophets vs. posers and I’ve been wanting to add to it since this summer with the following post.

A while back I was in the midst of a difficult environment.  There were blatant abuses of power, silencing of women, and a host of other things and dysfunctions driving the culture of this context.   I was able to see and discern what was at the heart of many an injustice, but yet was not in a position to do anything about it.

The weight of seeing, but being powerless to act was starting to get to me.  I believe a main difference between pure gifts of discernment and prophetic functioning rests in the drive or innate calling to act (which usually involves speech specifically).  Being powerless and without a voice when seeing injustice or abuse of power works against the grain of one who has been made to act or speak out.

It was in the midst of struggling with the tension of having vision, yet being powerless that I was blessed with some of the greatest wisdom I’ve ever received from a friend and mentor.  It has shaped my life for many years now and changed both the way I see and the way I handle situations in which roads to action and opportunities for speech are closed.

My friend suggested that maybe having gifts in this area lend themselves just as much to intercession, maybe more so, than others.  I think intercessory prayer can look different and many are gifting in praying for people in a caring or shepherding type of manner.  But my friend suggested that perhaps there was a different ministry of intercession that existed for those who see injustice and can recognize when only a work of the Lord can change hearts among those who can influence outcomes.

It makes sense doesn’t it?  Who else could pray in the face of the subtle glimpses into the dark side of leadership that works its way into how people go about their business and relationships besides those who have been uniquely gifted to see some of those things beneath the surface and recognize the sometimes not so obvious ways in which people are in bondage, being silenced or manipulated either by others or their own dysfunction?

I believe those who have prophetic gifting expose themselves as authentic prophets or posers through the degree to which they are interceding in prayer for their “systems” or contexts.  To see brings a responsibility.  Sometimes action is possible and required.  But in all moments of “seeing”, prayer is vital.  Prophets who are posers do not pray. They act out of their own instincts and self-interest.

Those who steward God-given prophetic gifts to identify injustice or wrongs and speak into them,  first and foremost need to be using their spiritual vision to pray. Here is some of the fruit of the praying prophet:

1.  Praying tests one’s own heart and lets the Spirit rid one of any temptation for self-righteous action or judgment.

2. Praying softens one’s heart towards the people that are being oppressed or hurt or silenced.  Prayer keeps the focus on the community implications of such dynamics on real people and not just about “what’s right or wrong.”

3.  Praying softens one’s heart towards the perpetrator’s of injustice.  Whether it is through personal sin, controlling policies, abusive behavior, or just general power tripping – prayer guides the prophet to the place of compassion for his “enemy” (a fair analogy for historical tension especially between prophet & king) in the battle for what most honors God.  Prayer is perhaps the only place that can guard the prophet from seeing those in power as evil themselves sometimes. Prayer, over that which is seen, guards the prophet from developing a hard heart towards often very fragile and limited people doing foolish and hurtful things for their own self-preservation.

4. Prayer leads to dependence on divine intervention to transform whole communities and systems.  The only people that would think to pray about the whole underlying fabric of one’s leadership culture and power structures are those who have the vision and sight to see them for what they are in the first place.

This is the ministry of prophetic intercession. If the prophets don’t pray for what often only the prophets can see in the first place – well there’s no one else who will!  And injustice, injustice at all levels, needs first and foremost a concerted focus of God’s power released through passionate and praying people who see.

Personally, I don’t consider myself I prophet. But I do tend to function this way in community.  Yet while I have long been aware of gifts in discernment and truth speaking, I never used to consider myself as having a unique calling to prayer outside of a normal prayer life.  Thanks to my friend many years ago, that  has changed.  I don’t consider myself a “prayer warrior”, but in some ways I have become much more of one now that I recognize some of how God has uniquely positioned me sometimes to be praying for things that not many others will be mobilized to be praying for.

I sometimes see things that not everyone sees.  That leads me to pray prayers that not everyone else is praying.  Those prayers are vital to God’s work of redeeming situations.  Those prayers are also important to my ongoing transformation and growth in the Lord through these situations. This is the gift of prophetic intercession. If we function prophetically but fail to embrace this calling that is foundational to our actions then we miss maybe the most important part of how God truly wants to use us in any given situation.

I’m grateful for this offering of wisdom and discernment from my good friend for its impact on my life and I’m thankful for the opportunity to pass this nugget on to anyone who has taken the time to have read this.

Can you relate at all? 

Are you a leader who sees?  Does your seeing lead to praying?

 

Dr. Pratt&the Lord’s Prayer

Friday, Dr. Richard Pratt from Reformed Theological Seminary came to speak to us. I’ve read bits and pieces from some of his books, but had never seen or heard him in person. He’s an Old Testament Prof. so a lot of staff have taken Old Testament Survey from him out here in Colorado.

He spoke on the Lord’s prayer being a place where our vision of God could be expanded to a place where we as ministry leaders could be sustained through the tough times. He rightly said that evangelicals typically just focus on the last part of the Lord’s prayer (providence, assurance of salvation, forgiveness) and gloss over the beginning that has to do with the Lord’s Fatherhood and Kingdom. Really, these verses are about praying to the King of the universe and not just a big granddaddy in the sky.

He went back to Isaiah 6 and other places to demonstrate that the dominant metaphor in the Scriptures for God is King and that we need to understand the gospels in that light and consider our own lives as being subjects of the one true King. It was very motivating and very right on from my vantage point.

Those first two verses need to become so much more a part of my daily and hourly life with Him:

“Father who art in Heaven
-(connotations of the throne room in Heaven – Is. 6),
Hallowed be thy Name
They Kingdom Come
Thy Will be done
On Earth as it is in Heaven.”