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Beloved, Prepare Him Room

Monday, November 25, 2013 | By Leah Yin

Peter writes that we are all ‘beloved’ in Christ. Yet a few are singled out with that adjective. John is the ‘beloved’ disciple. Daniel is ‘greatly loved’. How does someone become ‘beloved’ in this special way? We know that each child of God is equally loved and infinitely loved. In John 17 Jesus prays as much: ‘I pray that the love you have for me would be in them.’

This love is the infinite eternal unchangeable love of the Father for the Son- equally poured out upon all. Yet, it is also true that some have a great capacity for this love. No matter how much water is poured into a jar, its capacity to receive it is determined by the width of the opening. Pour a massive amount of water into a jar with a small opening, most will simply pour over.


When a mother feeds her little child to take a spoonful, she coaxes, ‘Open up dear. Open up”. In a similar way God invites us to pursue a ‘beloved’ life with God.   

‘Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.’
Psalm 81


I have one grandson, Daniel, who opens his mouth wide at every meal. He simply shovels food into this mouth- with a kind of reckless relish that is very entertaining. Another grandson, Oscar, is seldom interested in food. His appetite is to play and explore the world. Eating is a necessity not a joy. He takes a bite or two and then wants to head out for adventure. Needless to say, Daniel is bigger than Oscar. He has a ‘wider mouth’. 

When it comes to having an appetite for God’s love, some are able to open their mouths wider than others. They have a bigger appetite. It is in this sense that some are called beloved- others not so. God’s love is always and only received by the openness of faith. Thomas Watson wrote, “Faith is the mouth of the soul, whatever feeds it is food.” Faith is measured by our capacity for God and his love. Our emptiness is filled by this love. Our capacity for God’s love increases the more we receive and enjoy his love. The joy of God’s love is the food. Faith is the open mouth. The important question to ask is this: “How do we expand our faith to receive God’s love and enjoy more of this ‘beloved’ life?”One way we seek, receive and grow in this love by thoughtful, meditative conversation with God- that is by prayer. 

In prayer we increase the capacity for God’s gift of himself. 
-Augustine 

Prayer is the way we feed our faith.The chief work of the Spirit is faith. The chief exercise of faith is prayer. – Calvin.

Second, if we want to increase in the joy of God’s love we will pursue a life of holiness. If faith
increases our capacity for God, a life of faith will deepen into a life of holiness. Jesus says this in simple terms:“Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments you will abide in my love.” John 15 Holiness is the work of God’s Spirit within us. Growth in holiness is the immediate response of those who are growing in the love of Christ.  

Holiness is not a merit by which we can attain communion with God, but a gift of Christ which enables us to cling to him, and to follow him. -Calvin 

If we want to pursue the ‘beloved life’ we must pursue holiness. Holiness begins when we empty our inner being to make room for God’s gift of himself. Self reliance and self indulgence are the twin appetites which feed on the world and reduce our faith. By filling our lives with useless passions and practices these vices we stuff our souls and choke off the opening of our heart to God. Repentance is emptying and purging our inner beings of self reliance and self indulgence in order to make room for God’s love. 

Holiness is a profound openness to God. The positive side of holiness is nothing other than beholding Christ and bathing in his love. We increase this ‘holy openness’ by praying for more knowledge and experience of Christ’s love. In this understanding of holiness, we understand the profound prayer of Paul:

"For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God."  Ephesians 3:14-19

As we enter into Advent and the Christmas season, we remember more than a birth event. When Jesus was born, God opened the heart of the world and filled it with himself.Jesus came to occupy our world so he can inhabit our inner being. “Let every heart prepare him room!” 

By John Smed

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What is happening in our technological urban existence?

Wednesday, October 02, 2013 | By Leah Yin

What does it mean to be “alone together” these days in the city?

This video — written, designed, and animated by Shimi Cohen — was inspired and based on “Alone Together,” a book by Sherry Turkle. It was also based on the article, “The Invention of Being Lonely” by Dr. Yair Amichai-Hamburger.

What does it take for us to be unplugged and plunge into the true current of God's presence in prayer?



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Praying Towards Forgiveness and Reconciliation

Monday, March 04, 2013 | By Leah Yin

    Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive them that trespass against us. Matthew 6: 12

Being the illustrator for the Journey In Prayer book, I’ve been praying and hoping to create images that help spark our imagination to deepen our vision and understanding of the petitions of the Lord’s Prayer. This recent illustration is created to visualize forgiveness and collective reconciliation.

In my prayer and reflection on the subject, the eyes of my heart saw every conflict and broken relationship as actions that impact the parties involved and having a ripple effect on the outer rings of family, community, and even nation. The act of forgiveness, as a supernatural apocalypse is more than just an event involving individual’s choices to extend  and receive mercy. Beyond human sight, there are more layers on Earth and in the heavenly realm
 manifesting and motivating reconciliation. Jesus is our core intercessor along with the prayers of people building momentum in pressing the sacred act to be realized in each of our hearts. In experiencing forgiveness from God and in forgiving others, we tangibly live out Christ's kingdom reality - a reality of full reconciliation. As I illustrated, I saw people in prayer becoming houses of prayers with angels above sheltering, protecting and leading a pathway into union with God.

I also meditate on the concept of how Jesus prayed first for forgiveness and then protection in the Lord's Prayer. In my experience, once forgiveness does happen, I often encounter a desire to un-forgive and my self-righteousness retells the story of being hurt or victimized and I question the mercy and grace I need to extend to another. I think that's why it is essential we protect the holy act of forgiveness by praying, asking God to seal the forgiveness permanently. Because His forgiveness for us is infinite, we too must persevere and patiently pray to forgive another until our hearts truly receives God’s grace and mercy to carry through the sacred act of forgiveness to completion. 

Sometimes it takes an hour, sometimes a week, sometimes a year, and sometimes seasons to find forgiveness or be shown forgiveness. However long it times, as long as we are praying it forward, we will become what we pray: men and women of tender mercy.

Resource and prayer tools:

A book I highly recommend is Forgive & Forget by Lewis B. Smedes.

 (Don't let the name throw you off.)

Also, these web links below may help counteract the anxiety we all experience during our process of forgiveness seeking and forgiveness giving. 

Lastly, I just discovered this singer songwriter who sings of the miracle of forgiveness. Please take a listen:

 

It's March and indeed Easter is around the corner. May Our Lord guide your prayers throughout the Lenten season so that you may celebrate Easter with new revelation and fresh infilling of His grace and mercy. I would love to know your feedback or reflection about my blog via: leah.yin(at)prayercurrent.com. 
(We've turned off the comment function due to spamming for now.)

Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances 
you may have against one another. 
Forgive as the Lord forgave you.   

    Colossians 3:13 

Buy Journey In Prayer in our
book store

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What my Baby is Teaching me about Prayer

Saturday, December 01, 2012 | By Leah Yin

by guest authors Tim and Olive Chan



A while ago, a friend suggested to me that I might want to write about what I’ve been learning about prayer through my experience of being a parent.

Since prayer and the deepening of my relationship with God are matters that are close to my heart, and parenthood is the bulk of my daily life these days, it made sense to me to give it some thought.

Here’s what I’ve gleaned so far from reflecting on parenthood as it relates to prayer.

Apart from praying for my child, and praying for strength and wisdom to raise my child, there are a few other ways I see connections between the two:

It takes discipline to keep paying attention.

As I’ve said before in another post, prayer can be defined as paying attention.  As a parent, I realize that I’m often tempted to shift my focus elsewhere when I’m with my daughter.  My mind often wanders: things to add to my growing to-do list, what to make for dinner, people I mean to reply to on email… Many cares and concerns creep up and distract me from being fully attentive and present to my child.  Her babbling easily becomes background noise and unconsciously I stare into the distance.  But then I look at her and see her little eyes searching my face for a response from me.  She wants to know that I see her and that I’m here with her.  In those moments, I remind myself that I am missing out on the moment.  That I am letting this opportunity for prayer slip by.

Similarly, this happens in my relationship with God.  All too often, I live in the past, or the future.  I am occupied with what if’s or ought to’s, and I neglect the present day and all the life God has filled this current moment with.  Being present to my child trains me to be present to God.

It takes openness to discover who the other person is.

As I watch Alena grow, I am being challenged to keep discovering her every day.  I realize that I need to know her for who she is and not just who I expect her to be or wish her to be.  For example, when we started feeding her solid foods, I expected her to love apple sauce. (I mean, what baby doesn’t like apple sauce?)  But she absolutely hated it!  I have to continually remind myself to be open to discovering with her what her likes and dislikes are.  To not demand of her to be a certain way (even if it’s an internal desire that is never expressed.)

In the same way, as I get to know God, I must let Him be who He is.  I have to allow Him to surprise me and move in unexpected ways in my life.  After all, I can’t really get to know Him if I insist on thinking of Him in the certain way.

It takes humility to accept love.

This, perhaps, is the hardest lesson so far.  Being loved by my daughter is the closest I’ve ever come to being loved unconditionally by a human.  My husband is a close second, but there are still things I will do or say that test the limits.  My baby, however, simply loves me.  Even if I’m having a bad day.  Even if I forget to change her diaper.  Even if I ignore her cries.  Even if I make a thousand mistakes as a parent.  She just accepts me.  No conditions.

When I think of the way my baby loves me, I get a better feel for the way God loves me.  What’s amazing is that unlike my child, who isn’t really cognizant of everything that’s happening, God actually knows when I’m making poor choices or being willfully destructive.  And yet God still loves me with the same pure delight.

It’s hard to accept this kind of love.  Because something in me wants to say, “I deserve this,” or, “I earned it.”  And yet, the mystery is that this love rests solely on the basis of relationship.  I am loved because I am her mother.  I am loved because I am God’s child.

Alena’s love for me challenges me in my relationship with God.  Can I love Him in the same trusting way?

As I grow as a parent, it is no wonder to me that God chooses to use the analogy of this relationship to describe His relationship with us.  I only hope that I can pay closer attention to my earthly relationship with my child so that I can understand more of God’s relationship with me.














Special thanks to our guest family contributors: Tim and Olive and their daughter Alena for their insight into parenting and family prayer life. Tim is a cheerful pessimist who loves hockey. He proposed to his wife Olive with a goat and together they blog about thoughtful marriage, parenting, and life. Their first ebook, Fight With Me: How We Learned to be Married is available for free. Tim and Olive live with their daughter near Vancouver, Canada.


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Adjusting Focus

Wednesday, October 31, 2012 | By Info Prayer Current

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.
James 5:16-18

I have been adjusting my focus lately.  I used to get so fixated on the end result of something I wanted to achieve that I couldn’t figure out how to get there.  But a friend pointed out that the way to create any big change is to start with one person.  So when I think about how to create a culture of prayer at my church, my first step is to find that one person.  And I can pray, so it has to start with me: “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.  Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years.  Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops” (James 5:16b-18).  God moved in response to the prayers of one man, and he still can today, even as we seek others to join in prayer.

 

Kevin OCoin is the Pastor of Community Life at The Meeting Place in Winnipeg.  He is thinking and dreaming about how to develop a culture of prayer at his church, even as he prays.

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Listening Prayer

Thursday, July 05, 2012 | By Leah Yin



Listening prayer helps me to be more rightly related to all things. It also helps me to better attune to God’s rhythm and timing. By nature, I have a tendency to rush things or get an idea in my head and then pursue it like a dog with a bone. I remember once I was offered job opportunities both at a vibrant, growing church as well as in chaplaincy. I wanted both vocations! 

During that time, I slowed down to wait on God in prayerful listening in order to discern my calling. During those months, I practiced relinquishing my agenda, my self-will and defering to God. This waiting was particularly challenging for me yet important in forging my faith. It was not a passive waiting but a hopeful trust in His presence and involvement in my life. In waiting, I began to see new possibilities which were not there before. Not only did this space forge a deeper trust in his active presence in my life and a greater freedom from the habit of managing my own life & decisions, I discovered that this waiting led to a new possibility that was not there before! 

After 4 or 5 months of waiting on God, I was offered a third option of remaining in my own home church and joining the pastoral staff team there. With this new opportunity, the pieces of the puzzle came together and I had a settled peace that this was where God was leading me. Those months of attending and actively waiting led to new opportunities which were not there before and I have ended up rightly where I did not expect to be. 

Learning the art of active waiting… whether it is in discerning vocational call, or waiting for a spouse, a new work direction, or waiting for God’s promises to materialize, we are to take on the attitude of a hopeful receiving from God. Just as importantly, as we listen to His voice leading us, we become more secure with His sufficiency alone and less driven by our fears, temptations and wants. Our transformation into the likeness of Christ requires that we undergo continual heart conversion through knowing him and knowing ourselves more fully.


Thank you to July's guest blogger: Karli Baldwin

Karli as served as a nurse, teacher, mother and in pastoral care of churches.  Presently she enjoys working with Mark Swanson and John Smed at Grace Vancouver Church and she focuses on evangelism & discipleship.  She and Andrew have 2 children- Anastasia and Luke, 7 and 3,  who are a bundles of powerful energy.





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Pray it open or Pry it open?

Thursday, May 03, 2012 | By Leah Yin

Pray it open or Pry it open?

When God opens a door the real fun begins.  Why? Nothing strengthens faith like watching God at work.   Paul the apostle prays for God to ‘open a door’ he wants to enter into the very work of God.  He has tried to the door open.  All the excitement is gone- replaced by anxiety. 

“When faith begins, anxiety ends.  When anxiety begins, faith ends.” George Mueiler

My time with the director of an international mission, starts with a morning of prayer for one another.  God opens a door for further talks about how to partner in prayer.  This was my hope all along- but I resolved to let God open the door.   “That was easy',   I think   Where to from here?    A door opened by prayer- how do we ‘pray it forward’ from here.

Early one morning, a few days later, I prayer walk along Central park. I am preparing to meet with another  leader.  The day starts with a firm prayer resolve to gently knock but not pry any door open.  “Lord, let me be willing to walk away with no more than a friendly visit.”  What happens? 

A door opens- wide.  I have intensive dialogue with this friend and a number of  key leaders. We have unusual freedom to discuss prayer strategy for this network.  There is ’wide-eyed’ openness and enthusiasm on all sides.

A good start for sure. ‘What’s next?” Time to worry? Time to wait?  “Lord, you open doors that no one can shut.  Give me eyes to see and celebrate you at work.

Let’s suppose I pry the door open.  What then?  I might still be where God wants me to be.  Only I will not enjoy watching him open the door.   If I make it happen, I will never know if God is at work.  ‘Pray it open’ and I can cry ‘Encore!’  again and again God reveals his good purpose. 

“I cry out to God who fulfills his plan and purpose for me” Psalm 57:2

Paul encourages us to “prove the will of God”(Romans 12:2).  When we pray until a door is open, we wait in confidence and patience until his will- his good and acceptable and perfect will becomes clear.   Having ‘prayed it open’ we can ‘pray it forward’ with confidence.  Seeing him at work, we know we ask what is pleasing to him. 

Thanks for reading friends, John

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An Animated Prayer

Tuesday, April 17, 2012 | By Leah Yin

Sometimes as a leader...



Searching for answers can feel like this...

And praying is like chasing a flying fish.



Who says animation is only for kids? This brilliant six minute animation by Dutch artist: Michael Dudok De Wit, captures the essence of what it means to navigate life through prayer. Be inspired. 

Watch Animation: 
The Monk and The Fish 






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God of This City

Thursday, March 01, 2012 | By Oscar Lo


You're the God of this City 
You're the King of these people 
You're the Lord of this nation 
You are 


You're the Light in this darkness 
You're the Hope to the hopeless 
You're the Peace to the restless 
You are 

There is no one like our God 
There is no one like our God 

For greater things have yet to come 
And greater things are still to be done in this City 
Greater thing have yet to come 
And greater things are still to be done in this City 


And greater things are still to be done here ...



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Pray Together Draw Together

Monday, February 13, 2012 | By Admin Prayer Current

"So that nothing will hinder your prayers"
1 Peter 3:7

A simple illustration helps illustrate how prayer draws a husband and wife closer.

Think of God as at the top of triangle.  The wife is at the left corner.  The husband is at the right.  It is simple geometry.  As each one moves up their side the outside points get closer.  As husband and wife individually move closer to God they automatically get closer to each other.   Prayer is like an ascending gondola bringing each partner nearer to God’s heart and nearer to each other.

In every marriage, communication goes astray through misunderstanding and simple sin.  There is static when receptor frequencies are not lined up.  This results in conflict. Other times signals get completely crossed as if the woman is FM and the man is AM.  This ends up in dead silence. As the apostle says, at this point “prayers are hindered.”  In fact life is hindered.

It happens a couple cannot speak to or hear each other.  However, they can speak to God.  When a husband and wife enter into prayer they get on the same frequency.  God brokers the communication and gives a Pentecost of understanding.  Hearing sincere and open prayer, God speaks a unifying word to each partner.  He calms troubled hearts. He corrects one sided viewpoints. He points out selfishness and encourages sympathy for the other.  He drenches each soul with forgiveness.

This Pentecostal  effect multiplies when a couple prays together.  Ask anyone married for long.  The richest times in marriage are marked by praying together.  The deeper and richer the prayer. the deeper and richer the intimacy. 


The shortest distance between two people is God.  This distance is navigated in prayer.    

 



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