"I bow my heart, take my cross and follow Him."
Friday, February 25, 2011
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
If you're looking for the music listed on page one, it's here.
Thank you again for taking this journey of prayer with me.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
There the Lord brought me to a sense of my unbelief, that I might, even
at a late season, call my sins to remembrance, and turn with all my heart to the
Lord my God, who regarded my low estate, and, taking pity on my youth and
ignorance, guarded me, before I understood anything, or had learned to
distinguish between good and evil, and strengthened and comforted me as a father
does his son.
Eventually, he escaped from Ireland and returned to his home. But he could not forget the Emerald Isle, and he began to have dreams about Irish people calling him to come and tell them about the true God.
Patrick studied for the ministry and sought the approval of the church in Rome. Church denominations and mission organizations did not yet exist, but Rome was the superpower government of its day and Christianity was its official religion. Thus, having the approval of the church at Rome was helpful if one was setting out to convert a barbarian nation. Patrick returned to Ireland as a missionary—one of the first missionaries to venture beyond the reaches of the Roman Empire. There may have been a few Christians scattered through Ireland before Patrick's arrival; some historians think these Christians asked the Roman church to send a missionary to build churches and oversee the congregations.
Though some pagans opposed Patrick, many Irish people responded to him and believed in Jesus Christ. Patrick founded monasteries throughout Ireland, which were apparently more like our modern seminaries than to the later medieval monasteries. These institutions trained men to minister—and did not require their students to be unmarried or to take vows of poverty. Later, Irish monks began monasteries in Europe, where Scriptures were copied and preserved throughout the middle ages.
The Irish Christians loved and respected Patrick, and after his death, fanciful tales began to spring up about his life; centuries later it is a little difficult to sort out exactly which elements of these stories are true, but Patrick's own short autobiography did survive, known as “The Confession of St. Patrick.”
The prayer I chose as the outline for this study is a modern translation of a segment of a longer poem often attributed to Patrick. The entire poem is known as “The Breastplate of St. Patrick” or “The Lorica of St. Patrick”. Before their conversion to Christianity, the people of Ireland composed many poems known as “loricae” asking for the protection of their pagan gods. Patrick's poem was something new, a prayer for protection addressed to the Lord Jesus Christ. Several accounts of Patrick's life state that he prayed this prayer while being pursued by pagans, and that while he prayed, his attackers passed right by him, seeing a herd of deer instead of Patrick and his friends.
Patrick wrote a short autobiography that he called his “Confession”. He was very humble about his success as an evangelist, often lamenting his lack of education (his studies were interrupted by his years in slavery). He marveled that God had chosen him to be a missionary:
Who am I, O Lord, or what is my calling, that Thou hast granted me so much of
Thy Divine presence? So that at this day I can constantly rejoice among the
nations, and magnify Thy name wherever I may be, not only in prosperity, but in
adversity [teaching me] that I ought to accept with a contented mind whatever
may befall me, whether good or evil, and always give thanks to God, who showed
me that I should believe in Him for ever.
This is an excerpt from Sacred Signposts, Chapter One, copyright 2009. (You can read Patrick's Confession here.)
Monday, February 14, 2011
As you read the twenty-third Psalm today, meditate on the Lord's guidance and presence in your life. If the Psalm reminds you of specific blessings, stop and praise God for them.
The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack.
He lets me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He renews my life; He leads me along the right paths for His name's sake.
Even when I go through the darkest valley
I fear no danger, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff—they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord as long as I live. (Psalm 23:1-6)
Saturday, February 12, 2011
I chose to include segments of Psalms in this study because I think it's the easiest way to jump right into praying Scripture. Psalms gives us a pattern for praying honestly as well as eloquently—not because God doesn't hear simple spur-of-the-moment prayers (He does!), but because, when circumstances allow, He is worthy of thoughtful meditative prayer. Praying the Psalms also inserts a note of triumphant praise into our prayers, lifting our gaze from our needs and our requests to focus on the Lord Himself.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
God, You are my God; I eagerly seek You.
I thirst for You; my body faints for You
in a land that is dry, desolate, and without water...
My lips will glorify You because Your faithful love is better than life.
So I will praise You as long as I live;
at Your name, I will lift up my hands.
You satisfy me as with rich food;
my mouth will praise You with joyful lips. (Psalm 63:1,3-5)
Your righteousness reaches heaven, God,
You who have done great things;
God, who is like You?
You caused me to experience many troubles and misfortunes,
but You will revive me again.
You will bring me up again,
even from the depths of the earth.
You will increase my honor and comfort me once again.
Therefore, with a lute I will praise You
for Your faithfulness, my God;
I will sing to You with a harp,
Holy One of Israel.
My lips will shout for joy
when I sing praise to You
because You have redeemed me. (Psalm 71:19-22)
Lord, You know my longing for a deeper prayer life. You know I want to speak with You, not just demand Your help or read my prayer list. Give me the desire, the tools, and the time.
This is an excerpt from Sacred Signposts, chapter one.