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“Shall I give you yet another reason why you should pray? I have preached my very heart out. I could not say any more than I have said. Will not your prayers accomplish that which my preaching fails to do? Is it not likely that the Church has been putting forth its preaching hand but not its praying hand? Oh, dear friends! Let us agonize in prayer.”

~ C. H. Spurgeon

“From the Day of Pentecost, there has not been one great spiritual awakening in any land which has not begun in a union of prayer, though only among two or three; no such outward, upward movement has continued after such prayer meetings have declined.”

A.T. Pierson, quoted by Arthur Wallis, In the Day of Thy Power, p. 112

 

“The story of Christian reformation, revival, and renaissance underscores that the darkest hour is often just before the dawn, so we should always be people of hope and prayer, not gloom and defeatism. God the Holy Spirit can turn the situation around in five minutes.”

~ Os Guinness

HE IS RISEN INDEED!!

“Salvation comes through a cross and a crucified Christ.”

A Good Friday Communion Meditation by Trevor Miller

I recall a story of how a group of Christian missionaries in India arranged to visit Mahatma Gandhi in order to discuss faith and the Way to God. Before they left Gandhi asked them to sing one of their Christian hymns. Which one, they said? He replied, “The one which best expresses the heart of what you Christians believe!” My! What would you have chosen?

They chose ‘When I survey the Wondrous Cross… love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all’.cross_4

They were right! The Cross is central; at the very heart not only of our faith but of God Himself! Even the mighty resurrection is but God’s vindication that what happened on the Cross was under His total control and that all was going according to plan!

To preach Christ without the Cross is like writing a biography of David Beckham or Wayne Rooney without mentioning football; like making a documentary on Theresa May without mentioning the Conservative Party or Donald Trump without mentioning the US Presidency.

In this Good Friday Eucharist meditation, I want to hone in on one phrase, the 6th of the 7 phrases uttered by Jesus from the Cross. More than any other it forcibly reminds us that even in the darkest night, God is planning for the brightest day! It is found in John 19:30 ‘It is finished.’

What it meant then!

Reviewing the scene on that black Friday makes us realize that many others would have said these very same words that day

– the Soldiers, after their dreaded execution shift was over, it’s finished, thank Jupiter!

– the Crowd, now that the hideous entertainment was done, it’s finished.

– Judas, when he realized the enormity of what he had done in betrayal, it’s all over, finished.

– Peter and the disciples, after 3 wonderful years, then denial and desertion, it’s finished.

– the Priests, having seemingly come through a really tricky business, “we’ve managed it, it’s finished now.”

However, no one could say it the way Jesus said it or mean it the way Jesus meant it!

The other gospel writers give us a clue. All of them say Jesus cried out with a loud voice but only John records what He said. One word in the original language, a cry of triumph, satisfaction, and victory = Finished! Accomplished! Done! Jesus in complete control, despite the agonizing pain that we must never minimize. It was a real pain, real thirst, real death BUT this was no resigned victim, it was a Reigning Victor! Not, I am finished but it is finished, for on the Cross God’s will was being done perfectly on earth as it is done in heaven! The Cross is no place of failure but of fulfillment. If we look at John 19:28 we will see that exactly the same word is used and translated in the NIV as ‘completed.’  So it reads that Jesus “knowing that all was now completed … said … completed … finished!  The task the Father began in Eternity had now been accomplished in time!

For the rest of the post…

Today I have a pleasure to welcome Jared Brock to Flowing Faith as a guest blogger. Jared is the author of A Year of Living Prayerfully, a humorous travel memoir about prayer. He is the cofounder of Hope for the Sold, an abolitionist charity that fights human trafficking one word at a time. Jared is happily married to his best friend, Michelle, whom he first kissed in the seventh grade.

Here’s Jared:

I recently traveled 37,000 miles around the world on a modern-day prayer pilgrimage. I met the Pope, danced with rabbis, visited monks, walked on coals, and revived my prayer life. I discovered a world of prayer traditions across the Judeo-Christian faith family, and dug into the history of our family’s greatest prayer warriors.

Here are ten I discovered along the way.

  1. Francis of Assisi

Francis, the patron saint of ecology, was a nature-loving monk, and his followers have founded dozens of hospitals and universities. He’s one of the few saints revered in all three major branches of Christianity.

I’m inspired by Francis’s boldness in prayer and action – in a time of enormous war and upheaval, Francis traveled to meet the Muslim sultan, in hopes of winning him to Jesus. While he didn’t succeed, he didn’t get executed either. In fact, the sultan so appreciated his boldness that Francis stayed for an entire year.

Takeaway: Where can you practice boldness in your life? Maybe it’s a conversation you’re putting off or a new chapter you’ve been making excuses for not moving forward.. Be bold and start today!

  1. Brother Lawrence

Lawrence was a monk who washed dishes and cooked meals, and tried to pray without ceasing. He became so famous for his habit that someone interviewed him, and published a little book called, The Practice of the Presence of God. The book hasn’t been out of print in over 300 years, with over 20 million copies in English alone.

Lawrence believed it was easy to be close to God in prayer – if you didn’t wander far from Him during the rest of the day. I discovered Lawrence’s home after many months of research, and the impact of his simple prayer philosophy has helped me – and millions of people – to constantly commune with Christ.

Takeaway: Find ways to connect the everyday to the eternal. When you wake up, pray about being alive in Christ. As you shower, ask God to cleanse you from unrighteousness. As you put on your clothes, put on the armor of God. As you walk or drive to work, pray about your spiritual journey.

  1. Teresa of Avila

Teresa is the Doctor of Prayer in the Catholic church – a high honor, especially for a woman born 500 years ago. I visited her simple monastery in Spain, just outside the beautiful walls of Avila.

Teresa believed we are all on a spiritual journey, and there are seven “levels” in the process, ranging from practicing humility to achieving ecstatic spiritual marriage. While the lower levels of prayer – including the humble recognition of God’s work in our life – is very helpful, things got a little crazy towards the end. Teresa was said to levitate. I tend to stick to her first few ideas, trying to see where God is at work in my life.

Takeaway: Think about the times during the day you could focus on God more often. When do you get distracted, and how can you incorporate God into your life in those times?

  1. Benedict of Nursia

This pious monk is considered the father of Western monasticism, and for good reason – he literally wrote the book on it. The Rule of Saint Benedict has served as a guidebook for millions of monastics throughout the centuries, famously summed up by the phrase “Ora et Labora” – pray and work.

The patron saint of monks and spelunkers built a dozen monasteries in his lifetime, but his last one was truly impressive: a hulking hilltop fortress called Monte Cassino. I’ve visited the massive stone fortress where Benedict died, and reflected on the impact of his prayer and work.

Benedict believed that prayer and work aren’t mutually exclusive, and that times of work and prayer can go together. Prayer infuses mission with meaning.

Takeaway: Instead of trying to fix your problems by work alone, start with prayer. Then, as you work, continue to see it as an offering or a constant supplication. Let your work and prayer be one.

  1. John of the Cross

The Christian life is beautiful, but it isn’t easy. In this life we will have trouble. John of the Cross was no exception. His level of devotion was so extreme that another group of monks kidnapped and imprisoned him, bringing him out for regular public floggings. It was during the desperate time that he wrote the epic poem Dark Night of the Soul. He eventually tore the hinges off his cell and escaped, and went on to found a handful of monasteries.

Like John of the Cross, and Mother Teresa many years later, I too struggle with dark nights of the soul. John’s life encourages me to weather those difficult times – to make Christ my rock and anchor in the storms of life.

Takeaway: Make Jesus your firm foundation. Rather than trying to fix or avoid our problems, take time to do the greater work in prayer.

  1. Brother Roger

Roger Schütz was 25 years old when World War II started, and he decided that Switzerland was too safe a place for any Christian to be during a time of war. So he bicycled to France.

One night he stopped in an almost-abandoned hilltop town called Taize, and an elderly woman invited him in for dinner. She asked him to stay in Taize, and he did. As the war progressed, Roger helped Jewish refugees flee from Nazi persecution.

As the years went on, more and more people started to visit Taize – today, almost 100,000 young people visit each year, for prayer and meditation. My wife and I visited Taize, and it was a wonderful experience. We prayed before breakfast, before lunch, and after supper, and each time of prayer started with 8 minutes of silence. Our goal was to “maintain inner silence in all things so as to dwell with Christ.”

Takeaway: Rather than always asking for things during prayer, set aside a moment to simply spend time with Jesus.

  1. John Wesley

Literally tens of millions of people are part of the Christian faith family because of the work of Wesley and his fellow ministers. The tiny preacher had a big mission – he’s famous for declaring that “the whole world is my parish.” I’ve had the opportunity to visit Wesley’s simple house, where I discovered a curious walk-in closet off his bedroom – his prayer room.

For the rest of the post…

“THERE IS A GROWING CONVICTION EVERYWHERE, AND ESPECIALLY AMONG THOUGHTFUL PEOPLE, THAT UNLESS REVIVAL COMES, OTHER FORCES WILL TAKE THE FIELD, THAT WILL SINK US STILL DEEPER INTO THE MIRE OF HUMANISM AND MATERIALISM.”

~DUNCAN CAMPBELL

“When life is rough pray, when life is great pray.”

~ Anonymous

“You cannot pray for someone and hate them at the same time.”

~ Billy Graham

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