Rev Bob Hammond,

Lord’s Prayer reveals divine priorities

Searching for ‘tweets’ in the writings of iconic Australian social reformer and evangelist Rev Robert Hammond, this comment stuck in my thinking:

‘The Lord’s Prayer does say: “And forgive us our debts,” but first it says “Give us this day our daily bread.”‘

In context, Hammond was suggesting before we worry about someone’s sin (wrongdoing), we should see to their daily needs of survival, in keeping with his commitment to practical Christianity.

This morning I woke early, and was thinking, among other things, of what other divine prioritisation we might see in a form of praying that came directly from Jesus. Whatever you think of Jesus, you would have to agree, understanding how he ordered his view of the world is worth considering.

Here’s a few early morning thoughts.

Our Father in Heaven: Not just God first, but relating to God so intimately that it transcends all of life and reaches to where God exists.

Hallowed (praised) be your name: Our choice to honour God’s identity, character, presence.

Your kingdom come, your will be done: His explanation of how to live purposely and perfectly now.

On earth as in heaven: Completing the circle – intimate relationship that honours the character and ways of God leads to a heaven on earth potential.

Give us this day: Not just ‘forever’ but living for today.

Our daily bread: Be practical about our (individual and communal) whole and healthy life

And forgive our sins: Be accountable for your own choices before God.

As we forgive others: Having the humility to acknowledge our own shortcomings means we might be able to release others from theirs.

Lead us not into temptation: Prepare for what choices we will face today by relying on God’s goodness.

Deliver us from evil: Prepare for the choices of others and the randomness of a broken world by relying on God’s goodness.

Your’s is the kingdom, power and glory forever: Come what may, be wrapped up in God’s completeness.

Amen: So be it.

The Lord’s Prayer, as it is commonly known to Protestant Christians, or the Pater Noster (Our Father) to many Catholics, is not so much a prayer, but a way of praying.

And as we have seen, it is also a way of living and seeing, today and forever.

PH

PS You can follow RBS Hammond on Twitter here.

Rainbow welcome in prayerful Seoul

When travelling to Europe from Australia you cannot and should not forget we are part of Asia.

Sauntering into steamy Seoul this afternoon we were greeted with a welcoming rainbow as if to assure us we are in the right place. Overnight at least.
Having checked in to our aptly named Sky Hotel near Incheon Airport, I ducked outside to join many locals in admiring and photographing the colours in the sky.

South Korea is one of the most prayerful nations on the planet with millions of devout Christians well-known for their all night prayer vigils and prayer mountains.

Not surprisingly I found a church steeple to partner with the rainbow, which by this stage had lost some of its initial brightness.

Walking back to our hotel a young Korean woman walked past wearing an over-sized t-shirt that said, ‘In God we Trust’. I read it out loud and smiled and received one in return.

Prayer seems all the more important for South Korea when seeing close at hand its proximity to large neighbours China and Russia and of course it’s cranky northern relative. Pray for the peace of Korea…

 

LL Cool J opens Grammys with prayer for Whitney Houston

“Tonight, we ask ourselves how do we speak to this time, to this day. There is no way around this, there’s been a death in our family. And at least for me, for me, the only thing that seems right to me is to begin with a prayer.”

And so LL Cool J begins the 2012 Grammys in Los Angeles, leading the large group of celebrities, many with heads bowed, in a prayer for Whitney Houston.

“Heavenly Father, we thank you for sharing our sister Whitney with us. Today our thoughts are with her mother, her daughter and all of her loved ones. And although she is gone too soon, we remain truly blessed to have been touched by her beautiful spirit, and to have the legacy of her music to cherish and share forever. Amen.”

Prayer is so often the cry of our heart in the midst of tragedy and joy and many other circumstances.

If you are in need of prayer and are struggling for the words, simply express yourself as you would to a good friend and believe that God who loves you is listening. For more prayer help, visit Wesley Mission’s prayer page or Hillsong’s prayer and support page.

Oh little town of Bideford… where prayer has been over-ruled

Debates over prayers in Parliament or council meetings periodically emerge as another place where institutional secularism seeks to usurp institutional religion.

The latest has been the English town of Bideford where a former councillor took Bideford Council to court over official prayers during meetings.

The High Court ruled in his favour on what it described as a narrow point of law that it was not legal for councils to make prayer part of official business.

Some are seeing the ruling as having wider ramifications as secularism continues to reframe the nature of our societies.

Bideford may yet become a byword for a nation and nations loss of spiritual identity.

Read The Guardian’s report

Bear grilled (lightly) on Aussie TV, Hillsong

Bear Grylls featured on Channel 7’s Sunday Night  program tonight where besides  eating spiders and leaping out of helicopters, he was also shown visiting Hillsong last weekend.

Admitting that speaking to an auditorium full of people is scarier than most of his Man vs Wild adventures, he also revealed how he got his nick-name, Bear.

Rather than arising from ‘wrestling a bear when I was 3’, Grylls explained that his real name is Edward, which was shortened to Ted, and then Teddy, on to Teddy Bear and finally just Bear.

So one of the world’s toughest men is named after a soft toy…

Described on the show as a ‘man of God’, Grylls once again acknowledged the importance of Christian faith in his life and the importance of prayer.

For more on Bear Grylls and his views on God, visit my previous Bear post. He also has his own blog where he describes making a show in an Australian swamp as one of his hardest yet. You might also like to visit the charity page on the blog, and see how he uses his fame and fortune.

Speaking of which, he said fame and fortune were two things that caused him the most trouble which may be why he supports so many charities.

Oh, and the worst thing he’s eaten was a toss-up between raw goat testicles and bear poo…

Justin finds his voice for justice

We’ve all had a chuckle or two at the Justin Bieber phenomenon and wondered how long it would last. I even thought of buying my son a Justin Bieber t-shirt as a tongue in cheek  joke.

But listening to the radio today I noticed someone crooning about closing their eyes to pray for a better day on behalf of those doing it tough. When the song credit was for Justin Bieber, I decided to have a closer look:

I just can’t sleep tonight,
Knowing that things ain’t right.
It’s in the papers, it’s on the TV,
It’s everywhere that I go.
Children are crying, soldiers are dying,
Some people don’t have a home.

Pre Chorus:
But I know there’s sunshine behind that rain,
I know there’s good times behind that pain (hey)
Can you tell me how I can make a change?

Chorus:
I close my eyes, and I can see a better day,
I close my eyes and pray.
I close my eyes and I can see a better day,
I close my eyes and pray.

When someone uses their fame to ask people to consider the needs of others, questions their own role in making a difference and encourages us to take time to pray, it deserves acknowledgement.

And to highlight the benefit that flows when popular culture turns its attention to serious issues, consider these comments on the Close My Eyes and Pray page on a popular lyric website:

‘every time i hear this song i cry and it is sooo sad and true im trying to change things too…‘ and
‘i think this song is very helpful to ppl out there because the first time i heard this song i cried…there’s so many ppl out there that don’t even care about the poor.so thank you justin for making this song.WE LOVE U!!!:)’
 
If you still aren’t sure, check out the YouTube clip and you may become a believer. Anyway, for what’s a worth, I’m a (kind of old) fan Biebs. I’ll be praying you don’t lose your way…

www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9tJW9MDs2M

For the complete lyrics, keep reading. Oh, and, find a moment to close your eyes and pray…

Love enemies or become one…

I think I’ve worked out why (apart from the obvious world peace and so on) Jesus told us not to hate our enemies, but to love them and pray for them.

If you hate your enemies, you will become like them. And then one day you’ll realise you hate yourself.

If your love your enemies, and pray for them, they might just become like your friends and love you back. Or if not, your still in front because you will still find it possible to love yourself and hopefully you will have spent a fair bit of time talking to God. Simple, isn’t it.

Faith shines, undaunted by broken bodies

I have witnessed holy moments this week, acts of faith largely unseen but shining brightly in an invisible kingdom. They have left me humbled and undone. The first I witnessed personally, the second through the eyes of others.

Standing in a rehabilitation hospital I am surrounded by septuagenarians and find myself playing the role of the younger generation, nice for a change.

The first stood, fire in his voice, to pray for his friend sitting in a wheelchair. The pray-er has this year come through life-threatening emergency surgery to remove a massive tumour that was destroying his spine. Remaining full of faith throughout, he feels more qualified to pray for healing, not less.

He wags his finger lovingly at his friend who finds herself in a wheelchair after tumbling down a cliff, breaking her neck and bruising her spinal column.  

‘Don’t ever think that God wouldn’t want to heal you just because you are old. He loves you unconditionally and wants you to have life to the full,’ he says. Read More »

Prayer without walls but with Walkman

Mike walked into the prayer meeting, bare-chested, track pants low and blue headphones from his Walkman dangling over his ears.

He sat in various locations, including spread-legged on the floor.  The flow of prayer continued on around him.

While not phased by someone off the street suddenly appearing (relationship is a great leveller), there may have been a subtle shift in the group’s prayer to cover Mike, but not conspicuously.

Mike is a strong, nearly 40 man with partly shaven, partly spiked hair, a keen intelligence and the demeanour of an 11-year-old at a party. He can have an angry streak – I have talked him down from an Ice-induced rage on one occasion – but it was no where in sight this night.

‘Can I borrow your vacuum cleaner to vacuum my flat and then bring it right back,’ he said in a loud whisper to Patrick as the prayers continued. Pat quietly suggested they talk about it later.

He continued to find new seats and at times the music in his headphones was so loud, pray-ers had to lift their volume to compete. A gentle wave from one participant, suggesting he turn it down, was greeted with an obliging thumbs up.

As Mike got more jumpy, not in a disturbing way, but slightly distracting, I decided to invite him out to the kitchen for a cup of tea.

He gladly came. ‘Tea or coffee?’ I asked. ‘Tea,’ he said. ‘I like coffee but you said tea and tea reminds me of my grandmother. Can I have three sugars?’

I started preparing the tea and he asked me my name. When I told him he said, ‘I had an uncle named Peter. He was the shepherd of the family, that’s what my grandmother used to say. He was the only one to keep in touch while I was in gaol.’

‘That’s great, that there was someone like that in the family, who would keep an eye out for you,’ I replied.

‘Yeah it was good, although he did steal all the money I had saved up,’ he said. I was stunned by his gentle correction of my appraisal. ‘Well it sounds like he had a good heart, even if he made a few mistakes,’ I said.

‘Yeah, a good heart, even if it was false,’ he said, with no sign of malice. There was no way he was letting Uncle Peter of the hook even though he seemed well disposed to him.

Just as I was feeling a bit clever that I had successfully diverted Mike from disturbing the prayer team, he grabbed his cup of tea and said, ‘Can I go back out there?’ And before I had time to reply he took off, cup in hand, and I hurried after him with mine, realising I didn’t really want a cup of tea.

Mike sat in various locations again, spilt and then finished his tea and became perhaps a little too animated during some passionate prayer.

Finally, the leader of the meeting wound things up and asked if he could pray for Mike. He readily agreed to the prayer and to a hand being laid gently on his shoulder. The prayer began, with Mike giving a whispered sub-text.

‘Lord, deliver Mike from a spirit of fear and a spirit of rejection,’ Rick prayed with strength.

‘Cook it up!’ encouraged Mike.

‘And we pray against the spirit of violence that  troubles Mike.’

‘And that has disappeared,’ stresses Mike.

‘And Lord, let your love and your peace cover and fill him.’

‘Finally!’ Mike says.

With encouraging Amens, the prayer ends and Mike stands up, gazes around and with a big smile says, ‘That was great, and it was all true, all true. Look, I’m getting my goosebumps back, look at them all on my arms.’

Just another day at the church with no walls… PH

Names changed, true story. Creative non-fiction, Christian style…

Thou, our and thy but no me, my and I

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation
For thine is the kingdom, the power and glory
Forever and ever, Amen.

So reads the Lord’s Prayer or the ‘Our Father’ as I learned it as a child. It was not so much a single prayer that Jesus taught his disciples but a way of praying (see Matthew 6:9-13). Nevertheless it is a much-loved Christian prayer that has been prayed hundreds of billions of times.

I was using it as a way to guide my praying in the middle of the night recently, pausing on each phrase and thinking and praying around its intent, when something simple and profound stopped me.

I realised, as I must have already known but forgotten, that there are no I’s or me’s in the prayer. The only pronouns refer to God (thy/your) and us or our.

Which reminds us that the heart of prayer is to focus on God and to see ourselves as part of a community. Prayer, and the Christian walk, are not solitary occupations.

When Jesus taught prayer he lived and moved with 12 disciples and numerous other close followers, both men and women. He visited homes and families and turned strangers into friends. He called out to God as father and sought not his own will, ‘but your will be done’.

For this reason, it was natural he would prayer ‘our Father’ rather than ‘my Father’ and ‘give us’ daily bread and forgiveness and guidance, not ‘give me’.

The one time he did cry out ‘my God, my God’ was when doing something unique – carrying the world’s sin and shame solely in his own being on the Cross. How lonely he must have been to do so. Perhaps we too are more inclined, but from a less holy position, to focus our prayers on ourselves when we feel lonely, isolated and despairing.

Maybe the antidote is not more self-focused prayer, but to break out again into community and find the reality of praying ‘our Father’. PH

‘Skippy’ and Silvie feature at city prayer breakfast

Up to 500 people will pray ‘mercy and blessing’ on the city at the inaugural Sydney Prayer Breakfast to be held at the Shangri-La Hotel on June 4.

Organised by Sydney Prayer Breakfast Limited, a group linked to the City Bible Forum, guest speakers at the breakfast include NSW Commissioner of Police, Andrew ‘Skippy’ Scipione, and entertainer, Silvie Paladino.

Commissioner Scipione has had extensive experience in  law enforcement, and after stints with the Australian Customs Service, National Crime Authority and various positions with the NSW Police Force he was appointed Commissioner of Police last year. Away from his official duties he enjoys surfing, camping and spending time with his family.  

Silvie Paladino has established herself as one of Australia’s most versatile and talented entertainers performing throughout Australia, Asia and London’s West End. She has performed in Les Miserables, Cats, Miss Saigon, Hair, Mamma Mia! and Sideshow Alley. She is also a regular at Melbourne’s carols by Candlelight.

Organisers encourage any Christian who desires to pray for the different communities that come together in the Sydney CBD, such as business, politics, the arts and those in need, to attend the breakfast.’We believe that you will be greatly encouraged in your faith by participating in the breakfast. It’s good to pray at all times and also alone, but there is a place for corporate prayer on occasions such as this.’The Sydney Morning Herald  reported on the breakfast under the heading, Top cop leads God squad.’He’s the state’s top cop, a cleanskin crime-fighter who loves God and hates vice. But the Police Commissioner, Andrew Scipione, doesn’t just want to save the people of Sydney from crooks. He is worried about our eternal souls as well.’Sydney Prayer Breakfast tickets are $50 a head and for more information call 02 9232 8700, email or visit Sydney Prayer Breakfast . PH

Millionaire gives away fortune after pact with God

Sandwiched between the headlines ‘Sex claims: Hey Dad star to see police’ and ‘Drunk charged after trying to revive dead possum’ is the news that a British millionaire is to give most of his empire to charity after making a ‘pact with God’.

Albert Gubay was broke and selling lollies in Wales after World War 2 when he told God in his prayers, ‘Make me a millionaire and you can have half of my money.’

The devout Catholic has exceeded his side of the bargain, as has God, with Gubay giving to charity all but 10 million pounds of his 480 million pound ($787 million AUD) fortune to charity.

The Albert Gubay Charitable Foundation is required to invest about half of the money into the Catholic Church and the rest can be used at the discretion of the charity’s board.

Gubay made his money through Kwik Save grocery stores and Fitness First gyms, both of which he sold before investing in property.

While I doubt God makes bargains like that, he answers prayer and blesses faith and integrity which Mr Gubay seems to possess, along with keen business skills.

Faith, prayer, hard work, gifting and generosity – a great recipe for success. PH

Source: SMH

‘It just worked out that way’

“I’ve had a bit of a tough life,” the old fellow said as he tried to straighten his back before shuffling on towards his government flat.

Skin and bone with a fluro short and greasy cap, I walked behind him, hand on his soft arm or bent back to steady him.

“How many times have you been hit by a car?” I ask, recalling previous stories.

Read More »