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Posts Tagged ‘Prayer’

10 days of prayer and repentance. Would you dare to even start?

Straight away you might tell yourself this is not for you. Like me looking at a masterpiece of hand knitting, your mind will tell you ‘You cannot do that” and “You would never finish it

. . until now?

Meet Kelly Needham – a young christian woman who finds herself at home alone for 10 days. She has a choice of being resentful or of accepting this as a chance to do something special.

10 days of prayer and repentance – turning an obstacle into an opportunity.

She set herself the challenge to use the time to reflect on Psalm 139.

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.

See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139: 23-24

As I cross the bridge toward my life beyond breast cancer I join Kelly on her journey.

Meditating on these two short verses will be part of a good ending for me.

How about joining us and praying for Kelly?

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Life can take its toll on us.

My bible reading plan is taking me through Mark – and last week I met again the woman who touched the edge of Jesus’ cloak.

What Jesus said to her moves me deeply.

She had a tough life. She was suffering physically and emotionally. Despite spending all of her money on trying to find a cure for her twelve years of pain, she was getting worse rather than better.

She heard about this man, Jesus. She knew he cared about others who suffered: he noticed them and he touched them.

And his touch could heal.

He was radical and powerful.

She was resourceful and believing.

She pushed through the crowd and stretched out her hand to touch the man she believed could heal her. With every grain of her being she engaged in changing her future.

Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.

Jesus said to her . .

“Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

Click here to read some more about the Afghan woman in the picture above. Life has taken a heavy toll on her.

We can engage in changing. And we can pray for healing, peace, and freedom from suffering for ourselves and for others.

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Herceptin 3 – just another session on the chemo couch.

My name is on the IV stand beside the place that has been prepared for me – I settle for the 90 minutes of my visit.

I am pleased to see the staff – they are important to me. The expression on their faces matters. They are busy.

I pray the Jesus Prayer, and I pray my icy water prayer.

And I read my book – The Devil and Miss Prym. Paulo Coelho explores whether the heart is fundamentally good or evil. What would you say?

And on the way home this obstacle to my life and my routine gives me an opportunity to pass the Garden Centre.

I buy some flowers for our front door. The Heuchera is called Guardian Angel 🙂

As I walk among the plants the Proclaimers sing out of the radio – I stop to listen . . . . I’m gonna be . . . .

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Where is God when you need Him?

You pray and it feels like you are praying into a void – your words echo into emptiness. Or maybe it feels like you are shouting into a crackling telephone line – you have to shout to be heard. And there is only noise on the other end of the line.

I share with you my greatest resource from the past year. A treasure that God gave me before I received my diagnosis of breast cancer. A treasure that taught me a new way to pray before I knew how desperately I would need it.

It is The Jesus Prayer. I first heard about it on a weekend conference with our Bishop early in 2009. He mentioned it briefly in his summing up about prayer, and it caught my curiosity.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

The essence is simple.  As you repeat the words of the prayer over and over again, slowly and deeply, you open up to the Holy Spirit and become aware of a movement of prayer that is much bigger than you.

Prayer like this feels like stepping on to a boat or plunging into a river that is full of life and connects us with a global voice of prayer.

Simon Barrington-Ward has written an excellent little book called simply The Jesus Prayer. Chapter nine is life changing – What Happens When You Pray the Jesus Prayer

The phrases of the Jesus Prayer give the top of our mind something to be occupied with, so that the rest of the mind can be open to the deeper feeling that lies underneath. This is what those who have used the prayer have called putting the mind in the heart. The words occupy our surface being at the same time as they communicate with the depth in us. (p25)

In simple language what this means is that the Jesus Prayer gives us a way to engage deeply with God that acknowledges and manages our mind’s natural tendency to wander.

The essence of the prayer is to practice the presence of God and to stay there until eventually you were always conscious of that presence and always in communion with him . . In seeking that presence you would have to recognise all the passions that struggle to take hold of you in the depth of your being constantly. You have to keep turning from them to Christ and keep letting his presence with you and in you through the Holy Spirit still these passions and transform them into energies working for good. (p64)

My journey through breast cancer has contained many passions and fears that struggled to take hold of me. And in the battle ground of my mind the Jesus Prayer has become for me a key that transforms my thinking and my experience. God’s presence is always only one deep enjoyable breath away.

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Home safely . . had my first dose of Herceptin, and all is well.

This was the ‘loading dose’ and the one likely to cause a reaction. Administering a foreign protein intravenously has risks.

And so the nurse is very careful to talk through what might happen if I react . . .

“You might feel hot, become breathless, develop an itchy rash or a headache”.

Well he might as well say “Don’t think of a Pink Elephant”.

This is the power of positive suggestion. Tell me NOT to think of something and I have to think of it so that I can tell myself not to.

And before I  know it my headache begins to get worse.

Having read a lot of  Dr David Hamilton’s work on how your mind can influence your body, I know very well that I can easily generate exactly the symptoms I want to avoid.

But today I was ready for it.

I have received prayer ministry many times since being diagnosed with breast cancer. At the start of radiotherapy, I was given a picture of a stream of icy water flowing and picking up debris along the way until it ran clear. Through each treatment I visualised this icy stream flowing through my body, removing ‘debris’ (could that be abnormal cells?) and keeping my breast from burning.  Is it a coincidence that my skin is undamaged by the radiation?

For me, the icy water is a symbol of the Holy Spirit.

And so today, sitting in the chemo chair for 6 hours, I did not check to see if I felt hot, tight chested, or itchy. Instead I shut my eyes and bathed in a cool soft shower that washed me inside and out. I filled my chest with full deep breaths and rested.

My fellow patient in the chair opposite went home before me – “Bye-bye. Good luck and God Bless”.

Thank you, Father, that you have blessed me. I feel cool, refreshed and safe.

. . the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.

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If you think of humbling yourself before God you might imagine lying prostrate or covering yourself in sackcloth and ashes.

I can testify that lying on your back, bare-chested, arms stretched above your head, feels pretty humbling. Add some strangers to the scene and the feeling intensifies.

Mark Twain was right

Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society

You will not be surprised to hear I have been thinking a lot about this.

In the brief minutes on the rack while I have my treatment I feel vulnerable, powerless and naked before God.

Here I am, God,

No pretence

Flesh and bones

And the part that is me

No secrets

You knew me before I was born

You know me from start to finish

. . and I am not finished yet

Just as I am dependent on BC’s attributes when we have a disagreement, I reflect on how dependent I am on God’s attributes.

Lying naked and vulnerable, not knowing the future, I am dependent on God who tells me he is . . .

accessible creator eternal faithful father good gracious guide holy impartial immutable incomprehensible infinite jealous just long-suffering love merciful omnipotent omnipresent omniscient perfect preserver provider righteous saviour sovereign wise

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

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Week three, treatment 10 and all is well.

The sun keeps shining. Life and growth are all around me.

I know the routine:

Mosaic Art Sculpture - to support breast cancer

Brisk walk

Sigh under sign – RADIOTHERAPY

Doors engulf me

Card in box

Alcohol gel

“Hi, fish”

Read book

Blue gown, smiling faces, harsh room

Stretch on rack

Bare breasts

No jewellery, no blanket, no pretence

Nowhere to hide

Measure . . check

Adjust . . check

Pray

Pushed to the wall, I called to God; from the wide open spaces, he answered. God’s now at my side and I’m not afraid . . God’s my strong champion; I flick off my enemies like flies.
God’s my strength, he’s also my song, and now he’s my salvation.

So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.

The machine whines – I give thanks that any cancer cells are flicked off like flies.

Like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego I am not alone in the furnace.

As I walk back into the sunshine I breathe deeply – no smell of fire on me!

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