The Power of Prayer and Accepting Responsibility for an Answered Prayer


I ran into this  story online:

Texas beer joint sues church…

2009-10-29 / Editorial
Laugh A Little

In a small Texas town, ( Mt. Vernon ) Drummond’s bar began construction on a new building to increase their business.. The local Baptist church started a campaign to block the bar from opening with petitions and prayers. Work progressed right up till the week before opening when lightning struck the bar and it burned to the ground.
The church folks were rather smug in their outlook after that, until the bar owner sued the church on the grounds that the church was ultimately responsible for the demise of his building, either through direct or indirect actions or means.
The church vehemently denied all responsibility or any connection to the building’s demise in its reply to the court.
As the case made its way into court, the judge looked over the paperwork. At the hearing he commented, “I don’t know how I’m going to decide this, but as it appears from the paperwork, we have a bar owner who believes in the power of prayer, and an entire church congregation that does not.”

An e-mail sent bya former Grove Hill resident

Source: Clark Country Democrat

Comment

What an illustrative story. Here we have a congregation that sees their prayers answered, and perhaps also their own smugness. In any even it reminded me of the story of Peter, and how he denied the name of Christ.

We pray for certain things and we expect our prayers to be answered. And how miraculous: the prayers of this congregation were answered. At that point our human fallen nature hits in again. They get smug about the works of God.  What a lesson is in there:

In faith we ask God for certain matters and expect (as promised) that our prayers will be answered. The trap we should not fall for however is to be proud for the wrong reasons (and the use of the word smug indicates they were). If your prayers are answered so directly and you feel a need to boast, than at least acknowledge the source of your success: God, the one you have been praying to. The Bible is clear on the subject matter. In John 5:19 we read:

Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.

But of course there is the temptation to be proud about not God’s work but our own amazing prayer skills. And that’s where we go wrong. Paul understood and explained this to the Corinthians in his first letter (1 Corinthians 1:31):

31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”[a]

Footnotes:

  1. 1 Corinthians 1:31 Jer. 9:24
Having said all that what was really striking is the denial when the risk of being sued became apparent. Again what a lesson is in here. If we see our prayers answered are we willing to take the associated consequences of that. Personally I would say all of a sudden it becomes a faith question: IN FAITH YOU PRAY RESULT, and by the looks of it that got answered, DOES IT NOT MAKE SENSE TO EXTEND THAT FAITH TO A POSITIVE OUTCOME OF THE COURT CASE? If it was God’s will that was done here, how likely would it be that the court case would lead to an adverse outcome for the church?
And even if they would have been found on the receiving end of a successful court case for the bar owner; what is more important, God’s will or your wallet? It reminds me a bit of the story of the young rich man that wants to follow Jesus in Matthew 19
The Rich and the Kingdom of God

16 Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”
18 “Which ones?” he inquired.Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,’[c] and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’[d]
20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”
21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”
26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
27 Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”
28 Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife[e] or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.

I guess the church in the US showed us again an example of how we may be claiming to be following Jesus, to live a Christian life yet when it threatens our earthly existence, even just the financial side of it, how ready and willing are we for real. There are many out there that end up facing severe consequences, even death, as a result of their faith. Look at the early Christians look at those areas where Christians are persecuted. What would you do if you were convinced that your prayers were answered and find yourself faced with a POTENTIAL liability? WOULD YOU DENY HIM, HIS NAME, OR WOULD YOU FACE UP TO THE CONSEQUENCES EVEN IF THE MAY BE FINANCIALLY SEVERE?

What do you say?

Photo Journal: Spring as a Kingdom Methaphor


It may be me but spring seems to liven me up. Realizing that all day you have not used the log burner (which is, with the current price of wood a joy in itself), playing outside under the stars on my good old “stekkie” which is the Dutch word for a favorite little spot, reading the Bible in the morning sun, I just love getting out of winter.

I never thought about it like this before but spring is actually quite metaphoric for Jesus’ ministry. In His times he did what He did, His Father‘s will and with that he gave us a taste of the Kingdom of God, a Kingdom already here an a Kingdom to come. And he told his disciples that they would be doing even greater things so as make disciples of all nations.

When looking around you, it is not too hard to notice the beauty of the fresh young green, the spring flowers that are coming out. All I can do is be amazed not just about the beauty but also the impact, it so makes you realize that something even better is about to arrive.

Just look at the sheer beauty of what is already there.

All without a doubt a doubt glorious and magnificent. Is it not amazing to see a sleeping or so you wish dead world come alive again.

But at the same time is it not even better to know that it will all be back to life again so we can enjoy it in its full glory.

I can’t wait for it to be summer.

Further Talk on the Cross, Gifts an Calling: Mike and John Exchange Thoughts


Yesterday I posted Thought on the Cross, Gifts and Calling: the Journey Continues. In response thereof I received very kind responses, amongst others from Michael Pokocky, my good friend, writer, diarist, philosopher and retired business man. His blog can be found at the Red Room (http://www.redroom.com/member/michaelwpokocky) and is listed here as it is one of my favorites. Here you will also find links to some of his beautiful writings. Anyway, Michael and I have been friends for a very long time and ever since our first conversation we committed ourselves to being completely frank and open with our thoughts, which has over the years lead to thousands of pages of very interesting communications (email and skype) on virtually any subject and which I from time to time still draw upon. With his permission I was allowed to give the readers here a peak into some further thoughts after the post referred to at the start. I hope you will enjoy it as much as we did.

Initial post Thought on the Cross, Gifts and Calling: the Journey Continues.

Michael Pokocky’s Reply

I read [it] with great enthusiasm.
I found your writing clear and your proposition inspired.
Thus having been inspired through you sharing with me, I will share what I know in this moment.
It changes all the time as is the nature that the only real definition of a moment to me is the NOW.
When you read this it will be a new moment and I will be in another.
Here is my moment:

There is a saying I use to explain how one knows certain things: When you know you know then you know. And therefore no further thought needs to be put into anything.  If no further thought then what?  Action is the anti-dote to thinking.  If for example one is to give to give then the action of giving requires energy.  Thinking about acting requires energy too, but in my view it does not produce any tangible results.  The action of giving does however.

How we arrive at what we know before action is unique for all of us.  Cultural diversity is religious diversity or spiritual diversity.  Buddha, The Dali Llama, God, Christianity, Protestant, and perhaps hundreds more.  In my view all of these are in fact pointers to that place where one feels bliss.
So what is purpose?  It is what each of us feels at the core we must do.  How do we know our purpose?  We don’t as you say, but in my view if we align ourselves with that which we perceive as a deeper or higher self where we sense a knowing we will see our purpose is to evolve.  The cosmos is order and man seeks to find order out of chaos and suffering in life.  But the cosmos is infinite is it not?
Infinite order out of chaos.  This is a choice for the individual.  But what kind of choice?  Alignment of the self with the undercurrent of the vastness of the cosmos opens up the vastness of the self inside.  When this is realized then knowing who you are is not what one originally perceived oneself to be.  We will never know who we are nor will we ever be able to fully explain it without relationship to form and content by which we now use to think about who we are.  It is freedom of the thought forms and freedom from the material associations and freedom from all associations man made that allows us to experience the inner bliss.  That is our purpose and from that very bliss which I arrive at from detachment from form and content where I become conscious of an infinite vastness of order which has already been in place but not seen in full by anyone.  It has been glimpsed.  And people like Jesus, Buddha etc. were real men who lived and found this vastness and said,”Look over there and see it.  Is it not beautiful?”

John responds

This is really beautiful and I am amazed again and again how much similarities I see here.

When you refer to the journey to get to the point of bliss and how that is something that is there in all religious an spiritual diversities you are right. As far as I understand it that is because all those different religions, belief systems and philosophies have one very important thing in common, that is straightening out man’s inclination towards self-centered thinking and actions  and from that selfishness.

I can’t help but seeing that in all of them the ‘point of bliss’ and the journey thereto is one in which you stop putting yourself at the center of the universe, on the throne of your life. Where Christianity is different is in that it seems that it is the only only that requires the lead guy Jesus Christ, without him nothing is left. You can take Buddha out and you are still left with a beautiful philosophy, you can take Mohamed out and there is still a way to Allah, but once you take out Jesus, the way to Go is closed off. That is the the essence of Christianity, no one comes to the father but THROUGH Jesus.

My point was that as self-centered people we often times THINK we know yet at the same time we end up in situations or places and actions that are a source of continuous unhappiness. That place of bliss is where you end up using your talents or gifts and are doing things at near perfection, but what causes the ultimate bliss is not the fact that you are acting like that and using your gifts like that, you do that for a purpose with a purpose. And this means in my view that anything like that is NO LONGER ABOUT YOU.

Evolving as humans is in my view not a purpose but a means towards a purpose.

The cosmos is order and man seeks to find order out of chaos and suffering in life.  But the cosmos is infinite is it not?

Yes I agree that man seeks to find order and I would even go as far as saying that we are getting further and further in that. At the same time many of these advancements do not brings us relief in our suffering, in fact many of these advancements, as you pointed out yourself on so many occasions have only made the suffering worse. Where the quest is fantastic on many occasions we could ask ourselves for whom actually. “Connecting with the vastness of the cosmos etc” as you called it is somewhat of the Einsteinesque approach and in the end lead to magic moments and not necessarily to a life of bliss. That is what I now see.

“It is freedom of the thought forms and freedom from the material associations and freedom from all associations man made that allows us to experience the inner bliss.”

I have to fully agree with that but what I found is that man is too imperfect or in Christian terms “fallen” to ever realize this without the help of what you would call the ‘cosmos’ and I would call God, a God that wants to be known and moreover wants to have the relationship with you. In my case this means going through Jesus Christ and with the help of the Holy Spirit. However beautiful terms we come up with, in the end it all boils down to who are you going to have in the center and who is supposed to be in control. So, we THINK that we may be able to connect with that “vastness of the cosmos etc…” but that is not how things work in my view. That vastness that Einstein refused to label is what I would call God and it is the other way around, we don’t connect to this vastness, that vastness is looking to connect to us and we can if we let it. This is the whole shift in paradigm that comes, with the New Testament, with Jesus.

I did not want to create an impression that we do not know our purpose. God’s provision of the Holy Spirit comes in here as the vehicle of inspiration or communication. Aligning ourselves with that whatever you call it is still departing from a human perspective with ourselves in the center. That is what I found in the last years, is simply not going to work, or better yet, not for me.

I wanted to convey that out purpose is pretty clear, be a child of God, be what He wants you to be, be in a relationship with him through Christ: a relationship with a God who wants to be known, personally. A year ago I would have said that this is a load of crap, I now KNOW and have EXPERIENCED the reality of having a relationship with a living God, and I have come to the conclusion that this is the God of the Bible, speaking to me and guiding me through the Holy Spirit.

That is our purpose and from that very bliss which I arrive at from detachment from form and content where I become conscious of an infinite vastness of order which has already been in place but not seen in full by anyone.  It has been glimpsed.

You are right, it has been “glimpsed” (that is what Einstein is referring to),

And people like Jesus, Buddha etc. were real men who lived and found this vastness and said,”Look over there and see it. Is it not beautiful?

I think indeed that Buddha could have said that that and yes Jesus said that for sure in words of similar meaning. Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied:

“The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17: 20, 21).

I loved your reply and I love this exchange, as it forces me to have my thoughts clear. Thanks again for getting the better out of me. I love you for it.

With your permission I would like to get our exchange out on the blog (with all full credit and links to wherever you might like them). This was great stuff Mike you served up for me and I think it makes such a worthwhile read and forced me to go back in again myself.

Michael Replies

Yes your idea to post these conversations on your blog is fine by me.

Name: Michael Pokocky
…  Right now when I said in my comments I am actually aligning myself with the spirit and this allows me to connect deeply inside with my true essence which is slowly being revealed to me little by little the deeper I go through being consciously aware of it at all times.
In reading recently A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle — who is just an enlightened man like Deepak Chopra and other quality individuals like them and whom all convey through their writings the telling of their own personal journeys towards awareness or consciousness of God as I would call it while others call it the higher self or the inner self — I found three things that I practice from Eckhart’s journey and explanation of it to help me effect a deeper connection with myself and thus with God:
  • nonresistance — Is that so?
  • nonjudgmental — Maybe
  • nonattachment — This to will pass
The whole idea which I thought would be useful to me is that rather than use pills to numb me and prevent me from suffering I use this as a tool in living moment to moment to handle just about anything that comes at me from outside during the days.
In fact I think this is kind of a mental detox from my bipolar because there is less suffering all round and am able to keep at 5 pills from 16-18 a day quite easily.
Am I seeing results?  Yes and I can measure them by the way people — my family — are around me now.  PEACEFUL Laughter smiles connection and at moments the experience inside of total bliss or the totality of Gods love passing or living within me.
I don’t think ,”Oh what to do now?” anymore.  I just here my deepest voice speaking to me and follow that.  Action on what I hear.  I know this deeper voice is the re-conncetion I had to the Blessed Virgin Mary which I seemed to have lost for awhile.  Now I have re-connected once again.
I know that what I am suppose to be doing will be revealed after some time in this peaceful existence where the only thing I want to do was conveyed by that photo I sent to flickr or FB you commented on–the one writing at the ski resort while my kids ski.
As a matter of fact Nathalie just drove them and I am leaving soon to grab a coffee and bring my journal and books and will be sitting there again tonight.
I have been in the house since Sunday and only go out at night when after a day of rest from the cold I got I venture out into the vastness of the night stars and feel blissful knowing I will be near my kids in a short while.
Three people have given me idea without me asking of what I should be doing.  I liked that.
  • One__interviewer
  • Two__social worker with delinquent kids for rehabilitation
  • Three__a poet
I have felt the desire to live a intelligent life of sort of all three combined. We shall see and when I know I know you will know I know.

Final Comment

Whilst this exchange could go on for much longer I just want to highlight that where there is love, rules of engagement can go overboard and things are taken without any egotistic issues cropping up. This is an example of a very friendly and open one, there are others that are less friendly and way more blunt. But as always, what is being said is said on the basis of friendship, love, compassion and a deep mutual respect.

In more biblical terms: if you love your neighbor in the way it is meant to be, we can throw overboard all the rules of engagement as it is in the love that room for open honest communication is created.

I suggest finally that we all go and have a good look at the fantastic posts of Michael Pokocky:

http://www.redroom.com/member/michaelwpokocky

and check out the beautiful Sainte-Adele, Canada here >>>

And if you are in the neighborhood, take him out for a coffee and enjoy the company of a profound but very down to earth intellectual and loving human.

Thanks Michael Pokocky for being such an incredible friend.

WP.com Share Button

Share