The Three-Word Prayer Challenge

Today, author Margaret Feinberg issued a challenge on Facebook:

I took the bait tonight…and I’ll tell you, my prayers felt fresher than they have in a long time. This evening, I marveled at some surprisingly eloquent prayers, I laughed at some awkward grammatical constructions, and I distilled my prayers to their essence.

I enjoyed my prayer time in a different way tonight. I need more exercises like these to keep my prayer life more fresh and vibrant.

Why don’t you give the three-word prayer challenge a try? What do you do to bring variety to your prayer life?


What Do You Think About Last Week’s NASCAR Invocation?

This past Saturday, Tennessee pastor Joe Nelms delivered the invocation at the NASCAR Nationwide race in Nashville. His prayer raised some eyebrows and drew quite a bit of attention. Check it out:

I’ve always believed that there’s no such thing as an irreverent prayer, as long as the prayer is made with a sincere heart. Then I heard Nelms’ prayer. Some people are saying that the prayer was the best they’d ever heard. I’d say it’s far from it.

In a Huffington Post editorial (and I can’t believe I’m quoting the HuffPost), Shirl James Hoffman put it well:

One needn’t have a particular theological bend to see that using prayer as a bit of shtick or hijacking a public-prayer opportunity to deliver a bit of stand-up is crass and insensitive, if not profane. And some would remind the good pastor that the scripture around which he no doubt crafts his Sunday sermons, warns mightily against calling attention to yourself when you pray.

I think that Nelms’ prayer wasn’t really that clever; in fact, it was a little annoying, playing into redneck stereotypes and trying to channel Ricky Bobby. I don’t necessarily think that the prayer was sacreligious, but it did pretty well scream, “look at me,” rather than, “look at God.”

When our prayers attract attention for any reason other than sincere faith, they are counterproductive to Christianity and do not serve to draw people closer to Christ.

That’s my opinion. What do you think?

A Return To Routine After A Strange Week

It’s so nice to get back to what I can only hope to be a normal day tomorrow. This past week was pretty surreal, and it honestly stretched to about nine days, from last Sunday through today. It’s been a most unusual stretch of days.

Of course, the craziness started last Sunday with the threat of winter weather. Add to that my grandmother’s stroke that evening just as the snow began to fall. It definitely didn’t help to have the snow and ice that kept the whole family inside for pretty much all of five days (with occasional trips out). My sister, brother-in-law, nieces, and I all camped out at my parents’ house all week to save on heating and having to walk up and down the hill.

Then Hadley (my 19 month old niece) burned her hand on my parents’ pellet stove Tuesday night, causing an anguished, painful night for her. She got up Wednesday morning, and hit the ground running, not missing a beat, despite blisters, and later a big bandage on her hand. My sister and mom were able to take her to the doctor on Thursday morning. Continue reading A Return To Routine After A Strange Week

Getting Away

In the middle of tomorrow’s daily reading for the Eastridge Community Church reading plan, Luke 5, there’s an interesting, yet simple, statement about Jesus. It’s not entirely apropos of the episode being related at the time, though I guess it is loosely. Verse 16 says:

“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”

Seems pretty straightforward, doesn’t it? It ought to be, but it isn’t so simple. For me it’s easy to pray sitting in a chair, in my truck, or while I’m doing other things, or if it’s a particularly fervent prayer, on my knees or face down on the floor or bed. It’s an entirely different thing to literally go out of my way to achieve total, un-distracted aloneness with God. Continue reading Getting Away