Nouwen was an extraordinarily gifted spiritual writer. Here’s a passage from his Out of Solitude, Conclusion that provides some very powerful reasoning for prayer by means of withdrawal to the lonely place.
(Mark 1:35) ” ‘In the morning, long before dawn, he got up and left the house, and went off to a lonely place and prayed there. When Simon and his companions found him, Jesus said: “Let us go—to the neighboring country towns, so that I can preach there too, because that is why I came.”
The words which Jesus spoke in these neighboring country towns were born in the intimacy with the Father. They were words of comfort and of condemnation, words of hope and of warning, words of unity and of division. He dared to speak these challenging words because he did not seek his own glory: “If I were to seek my own glory,” he says, “that would be no glory at all; my glory is conferred by the Father, by the one of whom you say, ‘He is our God,’ although you do not know him” (John 8:54). Within a few years Jesus’ words brought about his rejection and death. But the one who had spoken to him in the lonely place raised him up as a sign of hope and new life.
When you are able to create a lonely place in the middle of your actions and concerns, your successes and failures slowly can lose some of their power over you. For then your love for this world can merge with a compassionate understanding of its illusions. The your serious engagement can merge with an unmasking smile. Then your concern for others can be motivated more by their needs than your own. In short: then you can care. Let us therefore live our lives to the fullest but let us not forget to once in a while get up long before dawn to leave the house and go to a lonely place.”
In what appears below, please note the use of the koine Greek word ἀγαπήσεις translated shall love. Because of the ambiguities that profligate from 21st century notions/concepts/applications of the English word love, I use the Greek to convey the overwhelming richness of the source of love who shows us the vastness, depth, height, breadth, and enveloping quality of the wholeness and holiness of Godly love. See 1 John 4: 7-12.
Mark 12:30 (ESV) > And you ἀγαπήσεις (shall love) the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.
It is a glory-filled privilege to pray. With that in mind, and with a focus upon how much we involve ourselves in the ἀγαπήσεις of the Lord our God, the following came to me during what I would call a personal episode of contemplative habitude.
with a heart filled with devotion, mind replete with wisdom from God’s Holy Word, spirit abounding in the Holy Spirit, a soul full of joy! Pray with all that makes you you. ~the Reverend Michael Trent Shaw
Grace, mercy and peace,
H/T: Fr. Paul Jagoe
Thursday Lent 5:
O Lord, my God,
I am not worthy that You should come into my soul,
but I am glad that You have come to me
because in Your loving kindness
You desire to dwell in me.
You ask me to open the door of my soul,
which You alone have created,
so that You may enter into it
with Your loving kindness
and dispel the darkness of my mind.
I believe that You will do this
for You did not turn away Mary Magdalene
when she approached You in tears.
Neither did you withhold forgiveness from the tax collector
who repented of his sins
or from the good thief
who asked to be received into Your kingdom.
Indeed, You numbered as Your friends
all who came to You with repentant hearts.
O God, You alone are blessed always,
now, and forever. Amen.
~Prayer of St. John Chrysostom c. 400 A.D.~
The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. ~James 5:16b
In your word is the precious promise of great power to righteous prayers. Grant most merciful Father, for your name’s sake, a great increase in righteousness for and among and emanating outward from the sheep of your pasture. More righteous and more righteousness bestow upon them, Good Lord, that Your kingdom come, Your will be done, and that the saving power of Your ἀγάπη be manifest in real transforming glory!
All for Your sake, and in the mighty name of Your Son our Savior, Jesus Messiah,
Intercessors, please pray for more righteousness and for more righteous people.
In view of the come as you are/”contemporary” school of thought concerning Christian worship praxis, it may be of help to know that your blog curate has some past (and occasionally current) experiences of its calm, cool, counter cultural envelope of faith, hope and love. The “contemporary” form/style/manner/mode of the service of praise, adoration, thanksgiving, and petition directed toward God through actions and attitudesin this day and age demographically holds first place with traditional/liturgical forms coming in at an increasingly lower second place.
The winds of change appear to be blowing once again.
From Patheos blogger, Michael F. Bird, “Many hunger for something that is aesthetic in their worship, rather than just intellectual or emotional.” Please read the whole article here.
Now, for a tantalizing glimpse into the “high church” world, please take this jump.
Oh, and yes, I still have my organ shoes.
 Ralph Carmichael’s and Kurt Kaiser’s Natural High (1971) was the call to worship for me and several other young people in our church at the time.
 Donald. K. McKim, Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms, Westminster John Knox Press: Louisville, 1996, p. 307.
Is it unusual to find it providential when you stumble upon a prayer that carries with its reading and heart-borne utterance a deep, rich sense of the fragrant offering of Christ?
from The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers, by Arthur Bennett:
Lord God Almighty,
I ask not to be enrolled among the earthly great and rich,
but to be numbered with the spiritually blessed.
Make it my present, supreme, persevering concern
to obtain those blessings which are
spiritual in their nature,
eternal in their continuance,
satisfying in their possession.
Preserve me from a false estimate of the whole
or a part of my character;
May I pay regard to
my principles as well as my conduct,
my motives as well as my actions.
never to mistake the excitement of my passions
for the renewing of the Holy Spirit,
never to judge my religion by occasional
impressions and impulses, but by my
constant and prevailing disposition.
May my heart be right with you,
and my life as becomes the gospel.
May I maintain a supreme regard to another and better world,
and feel and confess myself a stranger and a pilgrim here.
Afford me all the direction, defense, support,
and consolation my journey hence requires,
and grant me a mind stayed upon you.
Give me large abundance of the supply of
the Spirit of Jesus,
that I may be prepared for every duty,
love you in all my mercies,
submit to you in every trial,
trust you when walking in darkness,
have peace in you amidst life’s changes.
Lord, I believe, help my unbelief
This is a prayer that’ll preach, too!
Eight years ago to the day, I suffered a (significant, three centimeter – in the words of my neurologist) cerebral hemorrhage, then was in neuro ICU for a week and rehab for about a month. For that first week, my left side was paralyzed. It was a frightening time to say the least.
There can be no doubt at all that our LORD definitely and distinctly had His hand in my healing before, during, and after the hemorrhage. Here is a testimony (given at All Saints Episcopal Church in Winter Park, FL) of the unlimited and tangible reality of His presence I gave twelve days after my release from the hospital. Please review and share with friends, family, and others.
Eight years later, I reflect upon this with deep, deep thankfulness that I was the recipient of such overflowing grace. And, in some way to preserve the importance of His presence in the lives of His children, I’m still receiving it even now. In my experience the miracle of healing leaves a permanent imprint of the presence of the LORD. I guess His presence is stuck on me now. I can’t even begin to convey to you the joy or the value of this! I am so very, very, very, very, very, very, very richly blessed!
Yes, God is realer than real!!!
I offer Him my rather plain reverence and praise for His love and care for His often wayward children!!!
Please enjoy this wonderful hymn: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hv_a4v6b3QI One of my very favorites.