Tune In to National Day of Prayer

 

 

 

 

 

 

The image is a bit fuzzy, but the interview isn’t! Tune in to this National Day of Prayer broadcast on May 5 at 12:00 Noon (ET).

Dr. Angela Chester, host of Daily Spark TV, interviews Rev. Ronald Perry, Prophetess Katherine Free, Trish Atkinson, and me on prayer themes related to government, military, media, business, education, church, and family.

Broadcast options include Roku, YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo, and DRANGELACHESTER.COM.

Praising in prayer is the theme for the 2022 National Day of Prayer, and the verses chosen as the basis for the day are Colossians 2:6-7 (NASB):

Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.

I welcome your comments about the National Day of Prayer broadcast!

       

National Day of Prayer, May 5

Our National Day of Prayer, here in the United States, is coming up on May 5. It will be an opportunity for all of us to take some time and think about what prayer is, what it can be for us, and how it saves us.

As I have been thinking and praying about the messages appropriate for this day, it occurs to me that a foundational point is that we never have to beg when we pray to God.

We’ve all heard people pray heartbreaking prayers in which they beg God… maybe to save a sick relative… maybe to pull them out of financial despair… maybe to forgive them for something they haven’t been able to forgive themselves for… or a hundred other things.

I’ve even heard pastors in the pulpit pray begging prayers. Probably you have too. (Pastors, after all, are just as human as the rest of us.)

But if we stop to remember that God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son in order to save us, can we really think that we have to beg for anything?

We can, instead, live from a place of thanksgiving. We can lift up our concerns, trusting that He cares, trusting that He hears us. We can praise Him for what He’s already done and live in faith that our lives have His attention, that nothing of what occurs escapes his notice, that we never fall outside His love.

What will be the focus and content of your prayers when folks all over the nation join their hearts in prayer on May 5?

       

Dominant Thoughts

If you allow a thought to dominate your mind, it will rule your life.

Imagine what it will mean for you if that thought is worry, preoccupation with an illness, carrying a grudge, the urge to pay someone back, or any other negative thought you can name.

Your entire life will eventually become an expression of that dominant negative thought. But it’s just as true on the positive side, and it’s critical to remember that.

Maybe your dominant thought is how to help other people and you’re constantly on the lookout for opportunities. Or maybe your children are uppermost in your mind and you’re on alert for the best thing you can do for them.

Maybe you have set a goal for your life, and your mind is dedicated to whatever steps will move you closer to the goal.

“Your thoughts are a catalyst for self-perpetuating cycles,” wrote Amy Morin in “This Is How Your Thoughts Become Reality,” an article in Forbes, June 15, 2016.

She went on: “Creating a more positive outlook can lead to better outcomes. That’s not to say positive thoughts have magical powers. But optimistic thoughts lead to productive behavior, which increases your chances of a successful outcome.”

Amy Morin is a psychologist and author of the book 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do. Published by William Morrow Paperbacks, 2017.

What occurs to you about dominant thoughts to avoid?

       

The Prayer of Being With

We know the four kinds of prayer: we can praise God, we can make petitions to ask God for what we feel we need, we can pray in thanksgiving to express our gratitude for what God has done in our lives, and we can pray in intercession to lift up others to God’s care.

But there’s a fifth kind of prayer that may be the most important of all: the prayer of “being with.”

This is a simple kind of prayer. It asks only that you be present and open to God. Matthew 6:8 tells us that God already knows what we need before we even ask. So, it’s not all that necessary to tell Him again. It’s really not as though He needs to be reminded.

What may be vastly more meaningful is to sit with God, with our hands empty and our hearts open, and say, “God, I’d just like to be with You for a little while. I have nothing to ask of You except that I hope I will feel Your presence. In any case, I am going to sit here with my heart open to You. If You have something to say to me, that’s all the better. But if not, maybe we could just be with each other for little while.”

Over time, you may find the “being with” prayer your most blessed kind of communing with God, and it may become your favorite time of each day.

       

Stories We Tell Ourselves

You tell yourself stories constantly. And too often those stories are not in your best interest.

It might be an incident with someone at work or a passing remark from a family member. You interpret the incident as a slight, even as an insult. Already that beginning interpretation is the start of a story as you try to make sense of the situation.

No problem that you don’t know the motivation or intention behind the incident. You make up what seems to account for things. Then you retell the story to yourself over and over, creating a plot that fits what you believe happened. Soon enough there are plenty of feelings stirred up, usually hurt, sometimes anger, even outrage.

But, there is another way to go.

What if, as a spiritual practice, you chose to deliberately tell yourself a different story? It would have the identical characters and the same opening scene. This time, however, you find another interpretation. What else could the incident mean? What else could the motivation and intentions have been? What story, from that same beginning incident, would empower you?

Most important, what is the story if God is at the center? In that context, how does the initial incident look? What might it mean from the perspective of the Holy Spirit?

Look for the God-centered stories in your life that will inspire and strength you.

       

Dreaming about Dreams

Blogs like this one talk a lot about the sort of dreams we have for our lives—the goals, aspirations, and ambitions people think of when someone says, “Livin’ the dream.”

But the reference in this post is the other kind of dreams, those visions that appear to us while we are sleeping and that we tend to dismiss as “what a crazy dream that was!” We blame the food we ate the night before or the terrible thing we saw on television. The last thing that occurs to us is that the dream was actually a spiritual experience.

The worst thing about these dreams is how ephemeral they are. If you don’t write them down or take some other measure to purposely capture the dream, it is gone from you as completely as though it never happened.

And that would be a terrible shame because there is always a chance that the dream has an important message for you. You can call the source of the message your own subconscious or the universe or God. Doesn’t matter. It’s a source that has a clearer viewpoint on your circumstances than you do.

Sometimes it pays to ask for a dream that will hold a guiding message for you. Just the asking puts you in a frame of mind for receiving. It indicates willingness to take direction, to be open, to listen. Then when the dream comes, don’t edit it. Just be sure to put down on paper every single aspect of it you can recall, especially the ones that you cannot immediately interpret. And this writing down must be done as soon as possible after waking because, like snowfall on a sunny winter’s day, the edges will melt away fast.

I could give you examples from my own life, but much more effective for you are examples from your own.

Ask for the guiding dream, be open to whatever comes to you no matter how little sense it seems to make at first, write down every detail, ask God for the interpretation, act on what you learn.

Now that’s livin’ the dream.

       

What Are You Thinking?

When you hear an unusual message, you might take a second to consider whether you should listen to it. Is it worth my time?

But when, almost immediately, it comes to you again from a different source, now it carries more weight and becomes worth considering. Could this be the Holy Spirit whispering to me?

The unusual message that came to me was: Don’t believe everything you think.

I read this in Louise Penny’s 2020 novel, All the Devils Are Here. “Don’t believe everything you think” is the advice given by Chief Inspector Armand Gamache to incoming cadets at the Sûreté academy.

Within a day or two of reading that, and pausing only briefly to read it again, I came across the following in a video message from Dr. Benjamin Hardy: “A sign of wisdom is not believing everything you think. A sign of emotional intelligence is not internalizing everything you feel. Thoughts and emotions are possibilities to entertain, not certainties to take for granted. Question them before you accept them.” This is a quotation from Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist at Wharton.

So, receiving the same unusual guidance twice, I feel compelled to ask: What am I thinking that should not be believed? What thoughts am I entertaining that are actually leading me someplace I don’t want to go, to become someone I don’t want to be?

It doesn’t take me long to come up with a list of things that have trotted into my mind—that must be allowed to trot on through into oblivion without being accepted as truth. The thoughts come in from everywhere—news reports, books I read, social media, email messages, commentators, friends and acquaintances. None of it is necessarily truth to be believed.

What are you thinking that you should not believe?

       

Settled into a Rut

Everyday Spirituality is about experiencing the divine in the mundane and seeing lessons where problems are apparent.

Even with things like my desk chair.

It sits on a plastic carpet protector that is meant not only to protect the plush carpet but to allow me to move the chair easily.

But as time goes on and I sit in my chair day after day, something happens. My weight presses the chair wheels downward until the plastic (normally flat and unyielding) sinks into concave shapes, as though a golf club had cut four divots.

When that happens, I can no longer shift my chair—at all. I can’t move closer to the computer, nor to the left to open a desk drawer, nor to the rear to more easily leave the workstation. I am as fixed as if the chair were nailed to the floor, never mind the wheels and plastic surface meant to keep me mobile.

The only solution is to wrestle my way out, grasp the chair and force it—like pulling false teeth out of taffy—out of the divots. The heavy chair clearly longs to fall back into the ruts, but I wrangle with it to shove the wheels away from the grooves and onto hard, flat surfaces where the chair and protector can both perform as intended.

It forces me to wonder how many areas of life are just like that: where we have settled into ruts that will fight to keep us stuck.

 

       

Peace in the Time of COVID-19

The sun is out shining brightly; flowering cherry trees are in bloom; buds are already abundant with new life. This time of self-isolation, instituted in an effort to slow or stop the spread of the coronavirus, is also a time of stopping to notice what is around us.

A spiritual director friend of mine said: “It feels like an extended retreat.”

Along with doing what we can to safely help others, maybe the best use of this time is to pull ourselves back by the spiritual tether that links us to God, so we come back under His wing. A good verse to think about is Hebrews 13:5 from the Amplified Bible:
“For God Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. I will not. I will not. I will not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let you down. Assuredly not!”

May God keep you safely in His care.

       

Seed … Time … Harvest

I know this picture doesn’t look like much to you. But actually something remarkable has happened, and this photo is the proof.

You may ask, “What’s so remarkable about scrawny new grass growing in?”

I’ll tell you.

The grass seeds were sown over a year ago, possibly more like eighteen months ago. I can’t say that I actually planted them by the usual procedure. They were truly sown: scattered on the bare dirt in the backyard.

I wasn’t expecting much to come of it, and as far as I could tell, nothing did. I did minor tending of my hoped-for crop, but I knew from past experience that it would be difficult for grass to grow in where running dogs, persistent drought, and ever-increasing shade discouraged new growth. My professional landscaper had already tried twice without success and had asked me not to expect him to try again.

But well over a year ago, I bought a small sack of seed and sowed it. The seeds lay dormant. After five or six months, I gave up on them, and then I forgot about them entirely.  Now, after weeks of recent autumn rains, the seeds have sprouted and taken root. They are growing! New grass is coming up everywhere I haphazardly scattered those seeds.

Then I heard that archaeologists had discovered, in a sealed coffin, seeds estimated to be over 4,000 years old. Being researchers, they had to see what would happen if they planted some of them. What happened was that the seeds took root and grew. They were still alive and viable.

I have to wonder: what seeds have you sown and completely forgotten about—seeds that are just waiting for the right time, the right conditions to sprout? They may be seeds of kindness, of giving, of encouragement, of hope. I have to conclude that the seeds we plant into other people’s lives are just as hardy as those scattered seeds in my backyard and also never die.