Tag Archives: Prayer

Why is prayer necessary?

This is David Platt’s sobering response to the question: “Why is prayer necessary?” If the video doesn’t work you can watch it here.

What does the lack of prayer say about our walk with God?

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2013. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Christianity, David Platt, God, Prayer, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality

Fanning the flame

Viral - Leonard SweetIn ancient cultures, the most important thing a household did was to never let the fire go cold. In rural Korean cultures the same ancestral fire burned for centuries, and when they moved they took the fire of their forefathers with them. When your fire went out, it was thought, you lost your connection with heaven.

Would that Christians were as careful about tending spiritual fire as these ancients were about natural fire. We are to nourish the spiritual fire, and we do that by prayer, obedience, mission, devotion, and study.

Holy fire is warming. In the words of the nineteenth-century New England poet Lucy Larcom: “If the world seems cold to you, kindle fires to warm it.”
~ Excerpted from Viral by Leonard Sweet

We can encourage one another to keep our fires stoked; but it’s ultimately our responsibility.

How many fires will we kindle today with the flint of faith?

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2013. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Christianity, Faith, Missions, Prayer, Religion and Spirituality

Like Children Playing

Children playingI recall sitting in a church service with my parents when I was very young, listening to the minister invite people to come to the front for prayer. People went forward (some were crying as they did), knelt, and prayed. When they finished they returned to their seats, and I noticed a distinct change in them. They were happy and at peace. I looked to my dad for an explanation, but he only motioned me to be silent.

Finally a day came when I looked to my dad, and he bent down to speak. “Would you like to go forward?” he asked. I nodded my affirmation. Like those who had gone before, I knelt, prayed, and cried. Before long I felt better too, and I sensed the time had come to return to my seat. My dad smiled. My little world and I were at peace. I didn’t want to ever leave that place or lose that feeling…

I believe I saw the prayer time to be a form of play. It was fun. It made me feel good—just like play. And perhaps most prayer and worship begin for children as an extension of play. Maybe we should go back to that time to discover the pure joy of being in the presence of the heavenly Father. Our cares will be lighter if we relearn how to play in the presence of God, to let our prayers be an extension of the joy that comes from being with the One who knows us, loves us, and accepts us unconditionally.

~ Excerpted from Whispering in God’s Ear by Wayne Holmes

May we find delight today playing in our Father’s presence!

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2013. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Children of God, Christianity, Divine presence, God, God the Father, intimacy with the Lord, Joy, Prayer, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality

Thank you scandalous God…

Christmas prayer

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Filed under Christianity, Christmas, Emmanuel, God, Gratitude, Hope, Prayer, Religion and Spirituality

Without Any Reservations

Even with the best of intentions, parenting is a tricky journey. The ups, the downs, the unexpected moments – some good, some not so good. With six kids and 21 years under our belt we have come to rely even more on the grace of God and prayer.

When our kids turned 13 we took them away for an overnight trip full of special events as a rite of passage. One of the talks we have is about making their faith in God their own. But just 5 short years later when the time comes for them to head off on their own you can’t help but wonder how they will do.

We have two out of the nest (mostly) and four still at home. Our oldest is beginning his senior year of college and recently got engaged to a wonderful gal.

Eli has had his share of wrestling through faith issues and growing up the kid of a pastor brings its own unique set of obstacles. But to see him grow into his place in God’s story is so rewarding. Yesterday he posted this on Facebook.

I share it not only because it touched my heart as a father but because it challenged me as a follower of Jesus.

“Do you remember the first time you fell in love? Not even necessarily with a person. The first time you experienced something so powerful or amazing or awe-inspiring that you couldn’t imagine ever living without it again. Something so integral to who you are as a person that if you were to lose it, it would be akin to losing a limb. I remember the first time I ever stepped out onto stage. I was seven. I remember the rush. The exhilaration. The feeling that this was the epitome of how I would ever feel. Fast forward six years and I was back on stage at a community theater. Now, almost nine years later, I’m still in love. Ask anyone I know, they’ll tell you that once I’m in a show, I disappear. Every fiber of my being becomes wrapped up into the show and my part to play.”

“Earlier this week, a very wise man in my life reminded me to, “Never forget your first love.” It took me a while to realize that he wasn’t speaking in reference to my love for theater. He was speaking in reference to God. This is what God longs for from us. That we would be so madly in love with him that every fiber of our being becomes wrapped up in him and his bigger story. I can’t imagine a more perfect way to spend a life, but it’s often so easy to lose sight of our first love. So this is my prayer for myself and for all other believers out there. That we might never lose sight of our first love. That we become so wrapped up in God and his story that we can’t help but be an integral part of it. That we learn to truly and completely let go and love God without any reservations.” ~ Elijah Alvey

Is there anything or anyone we’re loving more than God?

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Commitment, God, intimacy with the Lord, Jesus, Loving God, Parenting, Prayer, Priorities, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality, Surrender

A God of mercy?

What follows is a personal account from someone in the theatre in Aurora, CO where a gunman openned fire two days ago.

So you STILL think God is a merciful God?!

(Maybe, just maybe God spared my life because He loves YOU and wants you to hear this..He wants you to believe that He loved you so much He gave His only begotten Son that if you would believe in Him you would have eternal life.)

So, you still believe in a merciful God?”  Some of the comments online are genuinely inquisitive, others are contemptuous in nature. Regardless of the motive behind the question, I will respond the same way.

Yes.

Yes, I do indeed.

Absolutely, positively, unequivocally.

Let’s get something straight: the theater shooting was an evil, horrendous act done by a man controlled by evil.  God did not take a gun and pull the trigger in a crowded theater. He didn’t even suggest it. A man did.

In His sovereignty, God made man in His image with the ability to choose good and evil.

Unfortunately, sometimes man chooses evil.

I was there in theater 9 at midnight, straining to make out the words and trying to figure out the story line as The Dark Night Rises began. I’m not a big movie-goer. The HH and I prefer to watch movies in the comfort of our own home…where I can use subtitles and get a foot rub. I don’t like action movies. And I don’t like midnight showings.  But, as I wrote in my last post, parents sometimes make sacrifices for their kiddos and I decided I would take my fourteen year old and sixteen year old daughters who were chomping at the bit to see this eagerly anticipated third movie in the Batman Trilogy. Twice I had the opportunity to back out and twice I was quite tempted. But something in me said just go with your girls. I did.

So I was there with them, fidgeting in my seat, some forty or  fifty feet away from the man with the gun. It’s still a bit surreal, but I do know that when the seemingly endless shooting started, as my girls were struggling from whatever gas or chemical had been released, and we figured out what was happening, we hit the floor. I threw myself on top of my fourteen year old who was on the end of the row, straight up the aisle from the shooter.  In that moment, as the rapid-fire shots continued, I truly thought I was going to die. And I realized that I was ready. I have put my faith and trust in Jesus Christ as the redeemer of my soul, and there wasn’t the slightest doubt that I would be received into heaven, not because of any good thing that I have done but because of His merciful nature and the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Still, as I lay over my daughter, I began praying out loud. I don’t even remember what I prayed, but I don’t imagine it really matters. I’m sure it was for protection and peace. It drew me closer into the presence of God. When there was a pause in the shooting, people began to clamor for the exits. The girls and I jumped up and joined the masses. We had to step over a lifeless body, not knowing where the shooter was. We raced to our car and I dumped my purse, frantically searching for keys, looking all around, prepared to hit the ground. I yelled at Michelle to call Matthew and find out if he had made it out of the theater next door. She did. He did. We booked on out of there.

Why would you think such a tragedy would make me question the goodness of God? If anything, both of my girls said it made Him a much more real presence to them; the youngest shared this verse: Do not be afraid of sudden fear nor of the onslaught of the wicked when it comes; for the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your feet from being caught.

He is not the cause of evil, but He is the one who can bring comfort and peace in the midst of evil.  It’s been amazing to see the outpouring of love from so many people after this unthinkable act.  Yes, there was one evil act, but it is being covered by thousands, possibly millions of acts of kindness.

We have not yet slept, so the girls and I are overtired and a bit emotional.  But overall, we are praising God and resting in His Goodness.   I love this word of wisdom and encouragement from a former pastor of mine:

Up to this point I haven’t had words to say that would matter. Of course we are all glad that you and the family are safe. Of course we would all state the obvious that this is horrific and senseless. But those words still don’t carry weight that remain in the midst of the questions. Then it hit me… Do you know what the difference was between Job and his wife in their response to the tragedy of losing everything… Job 1:20 Job was the only one that worshiped in the midst of it. Marie, I know your heart and I’ve seen your worship lived out before your family. Before the weight of this becomes unbearable… worship. Your profile pic was not coincidence, not by accident that you changed it on July 15th, but a beautiful foreshadowing of your need to hear the cry of your heart and give Him praise. 

Though we don’t have all the answers, we do indeed listen to the cry of our hearts: When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What  can mere man  do to me? Psalm 56:3-4

God is always good.

Man is not.

Don’t get the two confused.

We will continue to praise and worship our mighty God, anticipating that He will bring beauty from ashes, as only He can do.

If you want to know how to pray for us: first and foremost, we need sleep. Somehow our bodies seem too wired. We also want the life that God has graciously allowed us to continue to live to not be a gift given in vain, we want our lives to draw others closer to Him. We do not want fear to dominate, for God has not given us a spirit of fear. We want His joy to be seen and experienced in all that we do.

Pray for the families who lost loved ones, and for young people who witnessed such horror. Pray for this to be an opportunity for God to manifest Himself in mighty ways.

As for you…we will pray that YOU might know His goodness.

Still grateful for this wonderful life,

Marie

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Please join me in continuing to pray for all those affected by this terrible tragedy. Thanks, Rick

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Filed under Christianity, Faith, God, Grace, Grief, Healing, Heaven, Hope, influence with the world, Mercy, Peace, Praise, Prayer, Suffering

For the community of Aurora, Colorado

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

 

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Filed under Compassion, influence with the world, Loving others, Prayer

Pushing for something good can turn bad

Few people outside of Wayne County, Indiana have likely heard the name Ralph Teetor, but millions use one of his inventions every day – cruise control.

Ralph was a longtime president of Perfect Circle, an automotive parts manufacturing company in the small rural community of Hagerstown, IN where I pastor a church.

He was a gifted engineer who invented many things despite the fact that he was blind from the age of 5.

As the story goes, he was playing in the yard with a friend and was accidentally stabbed in the eye. Not lacking for resources and wanting the best possible care for their son, his parents took him to the best eye doctor in the region (Cincinnati, OH).

The eye was badly injured but his parents insisted the doctor do everything possible to save it. I don’t know much about the medical knowledge of eye doctors in the late 1890′s but it certainly must have been limited compared with what they know today.

In spite of the doctors best efforts the injured eye developed an infection that in turn spread to the other eye and rendered it blind as well. Had the injured eye been removed, he would have had sight with one good eye.

I’m not second guessing his parent’s decision. We all want the very best for our children and will sacrifice everything to make that possible. But sometimes pushing for something good can turn bad.

As followers of Jesus who are giving ourselves to further His kingdom here on earth, it is easy to push for something good without first stopping to consider or pray about whether it is God-ordained.

God’s ways are not our ways and God’s timing is not our timing. To participate with Him is not just finding something good to do but learning to do life in step with Him so that we can do the right thing at the right time.

In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus offers rest to all who would follow Him. It’s a promise to teach us how to live in step with God and the phrase used by Eugene Peterson in The Message is “unforced rhythms of grace.”

The offer still stands as the Holy Spirit who resides in us can teach us how to do life with God.

What would it look like today or this week to do life in God’s unforced rhythms of grace?
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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Choices, Discipleship, God, God's Will, Grace, Holy Spirit, intimacy with the Lord, Jesus, Kingdom of God, Prayer, Wisdom

Don’t drop your guard!

They make it look easy. They’re not only having fun doing it but some how magically pull you into the story. They even take people from the audience to be part of it.

I’m talking about the stunt men and women at Disney World who seem to effortlessly fill their roles several times a day. Can you imagine getting paid to have fun like that? What a blast!

Sure they are careful to tell everyone not to try these stunts at home. But this is Disney. The place where wishes come true. What could go wrong?

Apparently, a lot!

About five years ago, according to Eli, the stunt man who plays Indiana Jones made a misstep while going through the spears that shoot up out of the ground. One of the spear tips injured him so severely that it cost him his life.

Others have died from simple tumbling routines that they’d performed hundreds of times.

No matter how routine it might seem to be or how practiced you are, losing your focus for even a moment can be deadly.

The same is true for those who have given themselves to follow after and serve Jesus. We have been called up into a grand story that is bigger than we can imagine. A battle for the very souls of people.

But we have an adversary!

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are. ~ 1 Peter 5:8-9 (NLT)

Satan is the epitome of stealth and cunning; a relentless enemy who knows exactly when to attack us. He knows our weaknesses and attacks when we least expect it or are most vulnerable.

After Paul lists the various pieces of the armor of God in Ephesians 6 he ties it all together with the admonition to “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” (Ephesians 6:18)

Prayer keeps us close to God and dependent on Him; sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s guidance in dealing with an enemy as crafty as Satan. And we need to be praying for each other.

I don’t know everyone who will read this blog but I am praying that everyone who reads it will take it to heart and draw close to God through prayer; as well as take time to pray for others.

No matter how routine or mundane your schedule may seem to be today…

Don’t drop your guard! 
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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Determination, Holy Spirit, intimacy with the Lord, Prayer, Satan, Sin, Temptation

Investing in people, growing as a faith community

I don’t know how it works everywhere around the globe, but here in the American midwest the seasons of the year are noticeably different. This plays a major role in the process of growing a garden.

Well-groomed gardens require different activities according to the season, and those activities occur daily.

This very same principle of ongoing growth is also very evident and necessary in any faith community in which God is actively working to grow and change lives.

So we must continue to invest in the people around us, serving them, receiving from them, and letting God use those experiences to grow us into communities that create results and change lives for the better. We must recognize that significance occurs within the day-in, day-out process of interacting with others.

Just as we make changes in our gardens according to the seasons of the year, so we must adapt to changes within our communities as they struggle, grow, get pruned, grow some more, and flourish. When the harsh circumstances of winter come, for instance, we must huddle together (like the penguins!) in order to sustain one another.

When the spring and summer months provide us the opportunities, we must share in the work of planting and nourishing. And when it’s time for the harvest, we must be willing to serve and celebrate all that God has done and is doing.
~ Excerpted from A Significant Life by Jim Graff

Before we just assume that this is happening within the faith community we are a part of, let me pose a few questions to consider:

Do you see evidence of God working to grow people in your church family?

What season of the growth cycle is your faith community experiencing?

In what ways are you involved with others in sharing the journey of following hard after Jesus?

Are you praying for your church family, inviting God’s Spirit to work in the lives of others?

In what ways are you personally investing in the lives of others to encourage their growth in Christ?

Are you surrendered to what God is wanting to do in and through you?

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Church, Commitment, Discipleship, God, Holy Spirit, involvement with the church, Loving others, Morphing, Prayer, Serving, Spiritual formation, Spiritual growth, Surrender