Monthly Archives: July 2013

Learning to Pray Again

I remember how strange it seemed. Foreign to me. Familiar to others.

Prostrate prayers before the Lord, face-down on my red quilt, pointed eastward toward Jerusalem. It was her challenge to us following the Raleigh Living Proof Live event I’d attended. It soon became my default.

At first it was awkward, almost ridiculous at times. I felt odd, uncomfortable, and out of place. Was I doing it right? Where should I put my arms? How should I begin the conversation with God? But I kept to it, this horizontal approach to Jesus. Days turned into weeks, and weeks collected as months. With little fanfare, face-down praying slipped into my daily routine as habit.

And I loved my prayer time with Jesus.

But then one September morning in 2010 I stopped. Cancer interrupted my routine, and out of necessity, I traded in my face-down prayers for upright ones. I folded my red quilt, stored it neatly in the blanket basket, and promised God I’d get back to it as soon as I could. As soon as the scars healed. As soon as my knees gave me permission to bend without pain.

It’s been three years now since I’ve hit the floor in reverence. And while my scars have mostly healed and my pain has lessened, the quilt (for the most part) remains folded, used on occasion for warmth by other family members.

And I’ve suffered in my prayer time with Jesus.

What I used to love, I no longer craved. What I used to practice, I no longer pursued. What I used to know, I no longer remembered.

Until last week.

While sitting around the table with new friends discussing Bill Hybel’s book on prayer, I remembered what I used to love, what I used to practice, what I used to know. Last week, I recalled my red quilt, the intimacy of face-down prayers shared with the Father, and, with a contrite heart, I remembered my promise to him … to get back to it as soon as I could.

As soon as I could came and went a couple of years ago. What once felt so impossible—this stretching out of flesh before the Father—was made possible again by his healing hands. Sadly, I let it slip by without notice. A habit not pursued is easily forgotten, replaced by what’s reasonable, what’s comfortable. All too often, what’s reasonable and comfortable is a formula for complacency – a last-luster, dulled approach to connecting with life … to connecting with Jesus.

Not wanting anything dull and lack-luster as it pertains to my life with Jesus, I went in search of the red quilt last week. I found God’s East, and I laid down toward it. Scars to the ground, stretched out and head bowed low before the King. Not ridiculous this time around; instead, more readily embraced. Old habits remembered (especially the ones that are sweet) are ones willingly reinstated.

And, once again, I loved my prayer time with Jesus. This is how I will move forward in my conversations with him. This is where I will meet him in the mornings. Not out of obligation, but rather out of privilege.

I am able, so I will. Scars and all. Stretched out and stretched thin. Face to the floor. Heart to the heavens. This is, indeed, sweetness to my soul.

Peace for the journey,

What about you, friend? Do you love your prayer times with Jesus? What sweet habit of prayer have you learned? I’d love to hear more.



“Well hello, Asa. Nice to meet you. Welcome to my home.”

Her voice radiated joy from the front porch where she welcomed her guests. It spilled over onto the street where I was walking. Joy does that. When a heart is filled to overflow, it spills over into the lives of those close enough to catch it, even the unintended. I wasn’t on her guest list that afternoon; still and yet, I felt her warm embrace as she hugged young Asa, wrapping him up in loving arms and holding him close to her bosom. I smiled, looked in her direction, and caught her eye. For a moment, I thought I might make the guest list; she seemed the type of person to take a risk on loving a total stranger. Instead, we exchanged waves, and I felt richly blessed for having been privy to this front-porch welcome.

It’s good to be welcomed, to be celebrated on the front porch of a heart and invited in for a look around. It’s a gift we give to one another, a grace we live with one another. Life is sweetest when life is shared. Those who give it best—those who throw doors and hearts wide-open to welcome new guests—are those who’ve known it the most, a long history of being welcomed by others.

I’ve spent a lifetime on the move. Really. Spaces and places too numerous to count. Settings and groups and small collections of strangers and friends that, on paper, don’t mesh with any regularity. I’ve stood on a lot of front porches, knocked on a lot of front doors, and had (for the most part) the rich privilege of stepping into a lot of different living rooms . . . a great many hearts. Certainly, I’ve had the door slammed in my face on a few occasions. Front porches aren’t always welcoming places. But regardless of the doors that remain shut to me, I’ll keep knocking, keep hoping for an invitation. Why?

Because when it happens—when another soul swings wide-open and allows me a chair around the table—I feel the welcome of heaven. I hear the whispers of home. I touch the heart of my Father. His welcome gets personal when he welcomes through his children.

A front porch welcome. This is love concrete. This is love tangible. This is love actual.

It’s a way we can love today, a way to bring a little heaven down to earth, bridging the gap between what is not yet seen and what is seen every day. People, strangers and friends, waiting … longing for the welcome of heaven. Why would we neglect to give it to them? Why would we keep such treasure to ourselves? Why not, instead, fling the doors wide-open, step across the threshold of our hearts, and shout to those walking by,

“Hello! Nice to meet you. Welcome to my home.”

Oh to live like this! To give like this! To love like this!

To welcome and to be welcomed. This is our kingdom work. This is our kingdom to come.

Keep to it, sojourners in grace. My door is open, and my love for you is certain. Welcome to my home. Won’t you come in and sit with me a while? As always . . .

Peace for the journey,


The Work of Our Hands

Today I have the privilege of creating words with my Creator over at The 7th Year blog. A few weeks ago, my mentor and friend, Alicia Chole, asked me a question. In The Work of Our Hands, I respond.

Both Alicia and I invite you to the table of grace today to add your voice to the conversation. While you’re there, you might take the time to explore The 7th Year, a 52-week, spiritual formation journey written by Alicia. Fuller still, “The 7th Year is a movement of souls who—weary of a spiritual diet of event-to-event experiences—are devoting a year of their lives to the intentional cultivation of life-long sustainable nearness with God.” (Alicia Chole, The 7th Year)

Click here to read more.

Peace for the journey,

living in Mayberry

We took our kids to Mayberry last week. Actually, we spent a day in Mt. Airy, NC, Andy Griffith’s hometown. The town has capitalized on his fame and the show’s popularity, modeling shops and eateries in the tradition of Mayberry. Floyd’s Barbershop still offers haircuts, and pork chop sandwiches are available at Snappy’s Lunch. We had a great time, stepping back in time and imagining what life must have been like in Mayberry—a simpler time.

Or so it seems.

A simpler time. A sweeter place. A lesson. A laugh. A father and a son.

Could it be? Is there a Mayberry calling our names, wooing our spirits to its borders with promises of a simpler, sweeter life? A life filled with lessons, laughter, and sacred fellowship between a father and a son?

I know my heart cries out for it. Not just in the sweet by-and-by when I make it home to heaven, but now. I want a simpler life on this side of eternity. One that includes casual strolls down Main Street, leisurely lunches with favorite friends, and an unhurried pace so that I might learn a lesson or two from my Father along the way.

I’m off to a good start. There’s a spirit of Mayberry in this place I now call home. Really, it has little to do with my new address. Yes, the town’s population numbers less than my previous location. There are fewer stoplights and less traffic. Fewer stores and less bargains. Quieter living and less accumulation. Certainly, these “lessers” add to the calm in my spirit. But I don’t think the spirit of Mayberry is fully contingent on these lessers. Perhaps living in Mayberry has less to do with the location of our bodies and more to do with the location of our souls.

Mayberry lives next to Jesus. Find him, and you’ll find a simpler, sweeter place. A lesson or two for your soul. Some laughter and a Father who calls you son. Daughter. Child. Beloved.

This is good news for all of us, whether you’re currently living at a slower pace in a small town or running in the fast lane of a fast life in a fast city. Regardless of your physical address, I imagine there are times when your spirit, like mine, cries out for Mayberry.

Might I offer you a few tips for the journey?

Find your map. My hunch is that it is probably sitting next to your bed or housed on a shelf close by. If you want to live in Mayberry, the shortest route between where you are today and where you want to be is through the Word of God. Find this map, and you’ve found your starting point.

Read your map. Don’t just hold it in your hands; don’t just carry it with you to work or church to pretty up your exterior. Owning the map to Mayberry won’t land you safely home. You must be willing to study it, plot your course, choosing your route and your exits with holy consideration.

Take the map with you as you take your trip. On your way to Mayberry, you will (more than likely) weed out and leave behind the non-essentials. In fact, I encourage you to do so. There comes a time when we should travel lighter, ridding our lives of the clutter and chaos that weigh us down and stymie our forward progression. But along the way and as we go, keep hold of your map. Refer to it on a regular basis, less you take that wayward, wandering road in the wrong direction. Getting home to Mayberry is far easier with map in hand.

Commit to the map. Believe in it, and by God’s empowering spirit and grace, walk it. Through valleys, over mountains, along the highways, by the streams, and in the desert. The map isn’t flawed and will never lead you to a place where the Father hasn’t first placed his foot. Commit to the map, and you’ll find Mayberry. You’ll put down roots and call it home.

A simpler time. A sweeter place. A lesson. A laugh. A father and a son.

Mayberry lives next to Jesus. He is where you’ll find me today, and I’ve put in an order for two pork chop sandwiches. Won’t you join me at the table? I’d love some company. As always . . .

Peace for the journey,

God’s will done on earth . . .


Consider heaven.

Take a moment or two or ten and consider the heavenly kingdom that exists just beyond the veil. What thoughts come to mind? What do you believe to be true about your Father’s house and the rooms he has prepared in advance of your arrival?

As I’ve taken time to petition God with the most potent, practical prayer I can offer on behalf of my sons (and others)—Thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven”—a few thoughts surface regarding what I might actually be praying for them. What is God’s will in heaven? How does it live, breathe, and function? When we ask God for a similar measure to fall into our lives on planet earth, what might that look like?

I’m not an expert on heaven, but I do know God. His Word is alive and active in me. So as I consider heaven and God’s will therein, I’m confident that when I pray the prayer our Father taught us to pray in Matt. 6:9-13, I’m asking for a few specific things.

1. Revealed truth. Untainted. Pure. Without compromise. Absolute understanding. When you and I make it to the shores of our heavenly home, our eyes will be opened fully to truth. We’ll recognize truth, hold truth, walk in and with truth without any temporal constraints to blur our focus (see John 14:6-7). Certainly, we carry a measure of truth in our hearts as we travel this earthen sod, but imagine carrying it without hindrance.

When we pray the most potent, practical prayer on behalf of others, we’re praying for truth to be revealed exponentially to them on earth, even as it is revealed in heaven.

2. An accurate perception of God. Oh to see him face-to-face! To know God for who he is and to perfectly understand who we are in relation to who he is. That we, like our spiritual ancestors, might catch a glimpse of the Father in his radiant splendor and fall to our knees in humble response (see Rev. 1:17). That the mirrors which cradle our egos might shatter to the floor and, instead, we courageously allow ourselves to look in God’s eyes and see our true reflections set against the backdrop of his heart.

When we pray the most potent, practical prayer on behalf of others, we’re praying for glimpses of God in all of his glory to be made manifest in their lives. That they would perceive him accurately and respond accordingly.

3. Fellowship. People from every tribe, tongue, and nation will share the boundaries of heaven (see Rev. 5:9). Color won’t divide us. Language won’t confuse us. Geographical borders won’t separate us. Instead, our color, language, and geographical intricacies will enrich the heavenly banqueting table with enough flavors to last an eternal lifetime . . . to last forever.

When we pray the most potent, practical prayer on behalf of others, we’re praying for earthly fellowship that mirrors heaven’s family reunion. Oh to live that now and not allow our geography to segregate us but rather to enliven us and prepare us for the camaraderie of forever.

4. Worship. When did we stop? Why did we stop? Could it be that we’ve never really understood what worship means? For starters, reread #1 and #2. When we take hold of God’s truth and begin to understand who we are in relation to who God IS, then worship isn’t something we do on Sunday mornings; worship is how we live every moment of our lives. We pay our respects to the King. We make pilgrimage to the manger and lay our gifts at his feet. We journey further to the cross and share the grace meal with the grace-Giver. We travel on to the tomb and fill our famished hearts with its vacancy. We move finally and fully to the garden and realize that God is still with us, still in our midst. That he has chosen and continues to make his home with us through the power of the Holy Spirit and that one day soon, we’ll echo the resurrection cry of Easter, “Rabboni! … I have seen the Lord!” (see John 20:16-18).

When we pray the most potent, practical prayer on behalf of others, we’re asking for their hearts to be free from worldly constraints so that they might be able to live each moment of their lives reverently, acknowledging God and giving him his due. He’s due everything. We owe him everything. Get this, and you’ll get worship.

Revealed truth. An accurate perception of God. Fellowship. Worship. Four overflows from the most potent, practical prayer we can offer on behalf of others, Thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven.” Certainly, not the fullness of this prayer; I’ve a feeling I’ve only scratched its surface. But it’s a start, a good way to begin this very good day. On my knees and in prayer for those I love.

Would you take a moment today to consider heaven and, then, out of that consideration pray the most potent, practical prayer on behalf of someone you love? What does Thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven” mean for you … for them? There is no more pressing, worthy consideration of your heart. When you take the time to consider heaven in all its fullness (and especially on behalf of others), you open your heart and theirs to forever.

And so I pray on behalf of you, friends . . .

God’s will be done in your lives today even as it is done in heaven. As always . . .

Peace for the journey,

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