Tag Archives: disciples

Study and George MacDonald

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, March 14, 2017

bible, study

Study and George MacDonald

In the feeding of the 4000, Jesus did a big miracle. The miracle was multi-faceted. In this reading from our book today, George MacDonald not only explains the miracle but also unpacks the surrounding verses.

Sometimes I feel like the disciples. What part of Jesus’s words and actions do I not understand? (I know. A big part.)

A chunk of MacDonald’s commentary on this passage particularly struck me: the section where Jesus and the disciples talk about leaven. Yet again, the disciples do not understand. As MacDonald suggests to his readers, Jesus wanted them—and us—to learn from the experience. So many instances can be found in those teachings, as well as the actions of Jesus. A huge object lesson, if we consider it that way, and MacDonald lifts it up for us to learn.

Let’s set the stage. In the aftermath of the huge extravaganza of the day (for that was what the miracle of feeding had quickly become), Jesus and His disciples withdraw to a boat. In other words, they have a getaway car ready and waiting.

Jesus warns about “the leaven of the Pharisees.” His disciples have only a foggy idea of what He might be referring to. Their thinking is primarily concerned with their stomachs and what could possibly concern their day-to-day living.  (Oh, Jesus must be talking about how we didn’t bring any bread out to the boat for this trip.) Yet—are we any better? Do I have the same weaknesses of faith as the disciples?

Penetrating questions, and some particularly thought-provoking ones in MacDonald’s teaching on the feeding, too. Dear Lord, help me to glean information from George MacDonald, too. Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers.


Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er.

Remain in God’s Love. Stay Put.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, April 18, 2015

Jesus and fruit - grapes  John 15

Remain in God’s Love. Stay Put.

God loves Jesus. Jesus readily affirms this—His Heavenly Parent is embracing Him, even while He is talking to the disciples in the Upper Room. And, Jesus also affirms that He loves the disciples. Without qualifications, no matter what.

That’s the same kind of love Jesus has for me. And, for you, too.

The liturgical lectionary scripture reading for today is from John 15. It isn’t only the disciples who are encouraged to remain in Jesus’ love. We are, too. This is how I am to stay close to Jesus. Really close.

I am still feeling the effects of some very sad news; it came as a great shock to me. Jesus (and His love) is helping me through it. I know I am told to keep Jesus’ commands, and I will remain in Jesus’ love.

Please, God, be with all who received sad news today—or, even recently. Be with those who mourn, wipe their eyes, lighten their hearts. Be with all those who lost a loved one. Please. In Your mercy, Lord, hear all of our prayers. Amen.


Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And read #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

Teach Us to Pray (Focus Friday!)

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – January 16, 2015

PRAY teach us to pray

Teach Us to Pray (Focus Friday!)

“Teach us to pray.” That’s what the disciples wanted their Rabbi Jesus to do in Luke 11, wasn’t it?

The prayer guide we are considering this month has this request of God as its centerpiece, or foundation. Rev. Howell has based each basic or foundational “lesson” on some general aspect of prayer. He sets up each chapter as a brief lesson or tutorial on prayer. Howell mentions Richard Foster in today’s chapter, and I wanted to find out more about Foster’s viewpoints on prayer.

Accordingly, I checked out his book Celebration of Discipline, in the chapter dealing with prayer. Sure enough, Foster mentions Jesus teaching His disciples to pray. “They had prayed all of their lives, and yet something about the quality and quantity of Jesus’ praying caused them to see how little they knew about prayer. . . . It was liberating to me to understand that prayer involved a learning process. I was set free to question, to experiment, even to fail, for I knew I was learning.” [1]

Yes—the ultimate point, the shining beacon ahead of us is God. Drawing us forward and upward. Yet, I am grateful and relieved that I don’t have to be a perfect practitioner of prayer. As time passes, each of us has the opportunity to grow closer to God in prayer. As Foster explains it, prayer can be understood not only as communication, but as a process.

“In the beginning we are indeed the subject and the center of our prayers. But in God’s time and in God’s way a Copernican revolution takes place in our heart. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, there is a shift in our center of gravity. We pass from thinking of God as part of our life to the realization that we are part of his life.” [2]

This revolution—sometimes almost imperceptible—occurs over time. The starting point is all about me, but change does happen.

As several of my friends and I were considering recently, our self-absorption and self-centered orientation gradually changes. It morphs into something oriented towards God, and towards others. Prayer becomes more and more communication and fellowship with this Higher Power, and less and less asking for favors, requests, and wanting for my desires to be filled, my menu items taken care of.

What do I think is the most important part of this? The point that I cannot achieve communion in prayer alone. God is always there, to help and to guide. To pick me up when I fall down or trip up. (And believe me, I do trip up.)

Thanks, God. I couldn’t do it without You.

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blog, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.

[1] Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline (San Francisco, HarperSanFrancisco, 1998). 36.

[2] Richard Foster, Prayer (San Francisco, HarperSanFrancisco, 1992). 15.

What About the Day Afterwards?

matterofprayer blog post for Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter alleluia Christ is risen

What About the Day Afterwards?

Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed!

I suspect this was heard—and said—in countless churches around the world this past weekend. These words are the time-tested, traditional call-and-response manner of greeting on Easter Sunday.

The Lenten time of preparation before Easter is now past. This time of fasting, meditation and prayer is being observed more than ever. I might even say that Lenten observance is becoming more in fashion. (Not to be callous or flippant, but I have observed that tendency over the recent years.) And that’s a good thing!

Of course, Holy Week has been a high point for centuries, regardless of liturgy or non-liturgical observance. And Easter? Praise God, this is what everyone has been waiting for! Jesus Christ has conquered sin and death. He is risen! Alleluia! The Easter celebration is truly the high point of the entire Church Year.

My question remains, though. What about the day afterwards? What about the next forty days? Jesus did not immediately go up to heaven. No, He was here on earth for forty days until His ascension. I’m sure He met with His disciples, and told them some really fascinating things. And these conversations—which we do not have on record—must have been significant.

I happened to read a pertinent article this morning online, by Ray Hollenbach. There was one quote from the article I found riveting: “I’d love to get the podcast of everything Jesus taught in those 40 days [after Easter], but it hasn’t shown up on iTunes yet.” Isn’t it the truth? Gosh, I would’ve loved to be a fly on the wall in Mary and Martha’s house, or in the apartment where the disciples were staying!

I guess there is a reason why the New Testament is silent (for the most part) about the risen Jesus and His conversations during that waiting time. I don’t quite know what it is, but there must be a reason. Lord Jesus, what I do know is that we have a lot of information about You and Your love for us. And, we have a great deal of information about how to share Your love with others. So—I guess I need to do exactly that. I even have my marching orders from You.

Without any more ado, we ought to get down to prayer. Dear Lord, thank You for the reality of Easter. Thank You for loving us. You died for us. And we need to tell others about You and Your great love for everyone. Forgive me for shying away from those marching orders. Enable me—enable us to go forth and share the Good News about You! Thanks again! Amen.


(also published at www.matterofprayer.net Shortlink: