Monday, July 30, 2007

Time Off

I'm taking the next week and half off to study for my real estate exam (please pray for me!), so I won't be submitting anything new for a while. If you have anything to contribute in the meantime that has to do with learning to pray, please make a comment below. Take Care!

Let your love, GOD, shape my life with salvation, exactly as you promised. Psalm 119:41

Your love, GOD, fills the earth!
Train me to live by your counsel. Psalm 119:64

Truth from your mouth means more to me
than striking it rich in a gold mine. Psalm 119:72

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Summer Camp

A shout out to all the people who work with kids at Summer Camps and VBS’s this summer. May God be with you and bless you in all that you do.
PLEASE!!! - Let’s pray for the people who take the time to work with kids and teenagers this summer.

My wife and I went down to our favorite camp in the Northwest - Camp Firwood - last night to visit our kids, and friends, and see them in action as they led worship and did their jobs as counselors. Some of the teenage workers gave their testimonies, and on the way home I was reminded of the time when I heard the current camp director get chocked up at a camp alumni event when he began to speak of the pain in the lives of the kids he serves throughout the summer. I heard it and saw the pain first hand last night – and these were the Christian kids who were on staff! I can’t even imagine what some of the camper's stories must be.

Anyway – I want to BLESS all of you workers out there who are sharing the love of Christ with our kids this summer. In my opinion, you are on the most important mission field in the world when you serve, and love our children. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

From 24-7: Report From Germany

Ralf Neumann and some of his friends are scheming to move back to the down-trodden area of eastern Germany that saw them grow up. They want to found a monastic community that will bring reconciliation, friendship, creativity and practical aid to those in need. They are daring to dream that they can be part of the solution in an area that is rife with depression, suicide and growing Neo-Nazism. Read More...

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Communion at 6000 Feet

We had been climbing for hours with little breaks here and there to enjoy the amazing scenery. Little did we know that our guides had a surprise for us. We were up so high we were at the tree line, and there was only one small bunch of trees left before the mountain continued to rise up into the sky. Our guides had us sit and wait while they went and set something up behind this last group of small trees. What was going on?

Unbeknownst to us one of the guides had carried up a large silver cross in his backpack, some bread, and some wine. Inside of the last cleft of trees at this height he was setting up a communion table on a flat log. One at a time the five of us went into this natural sanctuary made of ancient trees, ate the bread, sipped from the cup and remembered the One who loved us enough to die for us. One at a time we came out...rocked by the Holy Spirit!

Forgiveness and the incredible mercy of God was the essence of that weekend hiking trip for me. I went on the trip full of guilt and shame, and thanks to our guides, and the mercy of God I returned home feeling refreshed, cleansed, and accepted by God. I love the outdoors. That weekend I was blown away by the views of the beautiful valleys, mountains, lakes and streams, but I actually came home even more blown away by how great God is, and that he loved the world so much that he came to earth, died and rose again, to forgive sinners like me.

learning to pray: take communion, be grateful and rest in the knowledge that you are forgiven.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Walking With God in the Midst of Hell

There’s an interesting book out by a lady named Etty Hillesum. Etty was a Jewish person living in Holland during World War II. She would eventually die in Auschwitz on November 30, 1943. The book contains her diaries and letters that she wrote in the years and months just prior to her death. If you are thinking of reading this book, be aware that Etty describes her love life in quite a bit of detail. She even has an abortion at one point. Nevertheless, she had a beautiful relationship with God and depth of inner piece that few of us ever experience.

One quote that I like in particular is the following one, written a year or so before she received her orders to go to a concentration camp. Some of her friends have left already for camps, and food and travel are heavily restricted at this point:

But sometimes I feel as though a layer of ashes was being sprinkled over my heart, as if my face were withering and decaying before my eyes, and as if everything were falling apart in front of me and my heart were letting everything go. But these are brief moments; then everything falls back into place, my head clears again, and I can once more bear and stand up to this piece of history that is ours. For once you begin to walk with God, you need only keep on walking with Him and all of life becomes one long stroll such a marvelous feeling.

learning to pray: No matter what your circumstances, no matter what you have done, the peace of God is available to you right now. Simply "begin to walk with God" and "keep on walking with Him."

"Etty Hellisum: An Interrupted Life and Letters From Westerbrook"

Friday, July 20, 2007

It Takes Time

Graham Cooke tells the story about how someone once approached him and asked Graham to pray for him to receive all of Graham’s spiritual authority in one false swoop. Graham asked the guy if he was nuts, and if he wanted to die because Graham had suffered, served, and prayed for years to be where he is at in his spiritual walk today, and so have you and I. To receive all of this in one prayer session, if it was even possible, would probably kill the guy.

For some reason we want to grow quickly, but for the most part, spiritual growth is a slow, sometimes painful process. There are seasons of fast growth where God in his grace, and other factors come together, to move us more quickly into a deeper relationship with him. In general however, growth of all kinds takes time.

Ephesians 2:22, “And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”

I have been praying at the same place in a local park for over a year now. I like to go there every Saturday morning if I can. It has been really cool to watch the plants come back to life this past year after the winter season. As spring progressed I would notice that there would be a little more growth and activity than the week before. At first there were very tiny buds on the deciduous trees and then the next week they would be a little bigger, until finally there were leaves and flowers and beautiful smells in the air – BUT – it took a long time.

Accepting that spiritual growth takes time is vital to learning to pray. Prayer is not always spring time and flowers, and it takes time to learn to pray. Sometimes spiritual growth is seemingly invisible to us as well. At times only God knows what is going on, and whether we are praying or not, we can be confident that God is at work in our lives.

The end game of our prayer life is to be more and more aware of God and his love for us, and our neighbor. Growth is a blessing, or a by-product of knowing God more deeply. If we don’t accept these facts, I’m afraid we’ll get frustrated and give up on learning to pray before we have had time to grow and mature in our love and knowledge of God.

learning to pray: Know that God loves you, and accepts you, no matter what season you are in.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Pray As You Go...

Sometimes we think we are to busy to pray, but prayer can happen in little cracks of time. Here are some ideas:

Pray in the car – to do this you may have to turn the radio off. When you get into the car and close the door, take a deep breath and enjoy the silence. If you are on the way home from work, pray about your day and leave the stresses and the job in the car that way you will be more ready to give all your attention to your family, or friends when you get home. You can also turn the radio off and simply enjoy the silence. And finally, pray for the people you drive by. Pray for the people in the other cars. Pray for the people on the street. Pray for whoever else comes to mind.

Pray as you wait – I’ve spoken to a few contemplative people who don’t get bored, and rarely get impatient anymore. Why? Their practice of prayer has spilled over into their wait times, so as they wait, they pray, or are comfortable in silence. As you wait, practice your discipline of silent prayer, or pray for those around you. If you are waiting for a meeting to start, place it in God’s hands and ask for God’s will to be done.

Pray as you go – As soon as you become conscious of God, or think about prayer, center yourself in God and become fully present to the people and the situation you find yourself in. Lift those around you up to God in prayer.

Praise as you go! – “Praise the Lord oh my soul. All that is within me praise his holy name.” (Psalm 103) This is one of my favorite things to do and when I am in a foul mood I often do this intentionally and it helps to change my frame of mind. Wherever you are, think about your blessings and turn these into a prayer of praise and thanksgiving. You might find yourself praising God for all kinds of things, even seemingly little things – go for it. It’s good for your soul.

learning to pray: What's your favorite way to "pray as you go?" Comment below.

Friday, July 13, 2007

An Act of Kindess

Several years ago my brother in law (that's him in the picture - isn't he cute?) wrote his doctoral thesis on treating kids as if the were at promise instead of at risk. The core of his thesis is that if we want to raise healthy and whole kids we need to mentor them and call out the treasure in them instead of all of the potential bad stuff by labeling them at risk. It’s a great theory, one that Tim lives out in his job as a High School Principal and Dad (see and one that I thoroughly believe in.

Around the time that Tim, or Dr. Tim as we like to call him, wrote his thesis, I was a volunteer basketball coach at an elementary school at one of the poorer areas in our Province. I came to the conviction that unless we help these kids from these rough and difficult backgrounds many of them were in big trouble.

Since that time I repeatedly see, and hear, great stories about people who received an encouraging word, or an act of kindness just at the right time and it helped to change their lives for the better. My daughter’s friend, for example, has a love of photography (see, so she wrote to some of the best photographers she could find and one of them responded and has asked her to work with them on a few photo shoots this summer. Isn’t that great? Isn’t that kind of this busy, successful photographer? My daughter’s friend is so excited.

I think the thing about kindness is that we just never know. We never know when an encouraging word, or a kind act is going to make all the difference in the world to someone, and because we just never know, we need to be kind as we go out into the world.

Kindness begins with our view of God. You can’t go to a Graham Cooke conference without hearing him say, “God is the kindness person I know.” As we begin to grow in our relationship with God by learning to pray and serve others, I think we become more and more aware of the kindness of God, and this naturally spills over into our interactions with other people. I don’t know Graham all that well, but what I do know of him is that he is a man that prays, and he is one of the most generous people around. Could this be because at his core he believes in, and has experienced the kindness of God?

learning to pray: Just pray and be open to the love and grace of God. Let his kindness find you!

Thursday, July 12, 2007


Can you imagine a street hustler on a street corner saying, “Hey pal come here – do I have a deal for you!
“What is it?” you ask.
He says, “Make yourself nothing.”
You ask, “What does it cost?”
He says, “Well I’m not sure, but it cost Jesus everything.”
Our friendly street hustler probably wouldn’t have a lot of takers, would he?

The words in reference to Jesus emptying himself and or “made himself nothing” (Phil 2) have been ringing through my head this morning. As far as Jesus was concerned it had to do with being humble, and becoming a servant, even to the point of death. I think emptying ourselves and becoming nothing relate to prayer too.

In prayer we get the opportunity to empty ourselves and become nothing, to lay down our agendas and pray for, and hopefully do the will of God. In the process, if we stay at it long enough, God becomes everything. It’s not easy, it’s far from automatic, it’s contrary to what society says we should do, and it’s even the opposite of our very nature. It’s one of those things that only comes through prayer and suffering. Frankly, it’s why not a lot of books on contemplation become No. 1 bestsellers, and why contemplation is resisted, even in Christian circles.

On top of that, emptying ourselves and becoming nothing is one of those things we only come to through grace. There is no formula. It’s a gift of God and we have very little control over it. We can forgive ourselves, and let go of the things that imprison us. Then we can walk out of our cells – whatever they may be, including judgmental forms of religion, and be able to stand in the dark, and be able to just be with God. I honestly don’t entirely know what happens next, accept that I need to do what I can to keep leaving the my cell, go stand on a ledge, and stare out at the darkness, of Nothing, and simply rest in the presence of God. I think our faith, love and confidence in God grows to an incredible depth as we empty ourselves and become nothing.

Here I stand in the dark, at the edge of Nothing, with a bit of a sense of the presence and love of God. And that’s it.

learning to pray: What does becoming nothing mean to you when it comes to prayer?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Love Him...

"Love Him and I will tell you to do no more. For if you love Him, everything else will work out. I am not asking you for a tender and emotional love, but simply that you lean toward love. Put God before yourself and the world and even your evil desires will begin to be transformed." ~ Francis Fenelon, “100 Days in the Secret Place,” compiled by Gene Edwards

learning to pray: lean toward God with love.

Monday, July 9, 2007

What Time Is it?

A friend of mine asked me last night what I’ve been learning about time. He asked because he said he has had a less stressed out week this last week because he made a decision to be less concerned with time, and more focused on the task at hand, and the people he was with. Basically, he has been practicing presence, and looking at his watch less often!

Many of us tend to get caught up in, or weighed down by time. We have incredible anxiety about the future that keeps us from giving our full attention to what we are DOING RIGHT NOW. This is a stressful, even unhealthy, way to live, but most of us live this way anyway.

My wife and my two teenage daughters take a lot longer to get ready to go out than I do. Somewhere along the way I had to decide that I wasn’t going to let the time that I spent waiting for them stress me out. I can’t even tell you how I did it. Maybe it was simply a gift of patience from God, but whatever it was, it was a great stress reliever for everyone concerned.

Jesus encouraged us not to worry. He said look at the birds, and look at the lilies of the field; they don’t strive, or get stressed out, and yet God takes care of them. He goes on to say that if we seek him first all then other stuff will be taken care of. For Jesus, faith and anxiety don’t mix.* I encourage you to go outside and actually watch the birds, or stare at a flower or a tree for a while. See what insights you come up with.

Around 300 years ago, Francis Fenelon said,
“Make a habit of bringing your attention back to God on a regular basis…and you will undoubtedly find him with peace and joy.”**
For me, this is the key to overcoming my anxiety about time. When I find myself getting stressed out, it’s a sign, or an invitation even, to bring my attention back to God. If I do this often enough, the peace of Christ will rule my heart (Col. 3).

None of this means that we don’t put in a good hard day’s work. It speaks to the “how” of everyday life. My friend that I mentioned above had a very productive week, he just did it differently. By being less concerned with time he did what he had to do with a lot more inner peace.

Learning to pray: TRUSTING GOD is a huge issue for many of us, and can go very deep, even to the core of who we are, and what we believe about God. What is keeping you from trusting God with your time and your future?

*”Everything Belongs” by Richard Rohr
** “100 Days in the Secret Place,” compiled by Gene Edwards

Friday, July 6, 2007

From 24-7 Prayer: Incarnation vs. Attraction

"The guys who attacked Timothy smashed a beer bottle in his face, beat him with their fists and kicked him until he was able to break through the circle they made around him and get away." Read More...

Thursday, July 5, 2007


I have to admit I haven’t had a lot to say about learning to pray over the last week or so, and I am okay with that. More on this in a minute…

Last night we headed down to Bellingham, Washington to join our friends on the Fourth of July to blow things up! Us Canadians need to get with the program and create a holiday where we get to create copious amounts of explosions and set our lawns, and t-shirts on fire. It’s a heck of a lot of fun!

As I was getting ready this morning I was thinking about learning to pray and how I’ve just been in a quiet, peaceful place lately without a lot of spiritual fireworks going off. I guess as a result, I haven’t had the desire to write about learning to pray. I’ve thought about digging out my journals and finding some experience from the past to write about, but then I thought better of it.

"Only gradually, and with good direction, do we realize that drought means growth" - Thomas H. Green, S.J.

Being quiet and peaceful may not make for great blogging, but I have been learning that it is a fact of a life of prayer. The longer we pray - and I’m talking faithful prayer for years and years - prayer becomes less and less about the fireworks and more and more about simply being with the God who passionately loves us. Once we can simply be with God, and get beyond the need for spiritual fireworks, then we get to a place of truly loving God.

I think this is really hard for the modern North American Christian to accept, or even desire. It was kind of a surprise to me to find out as I have been pursuing a life of prayer that “the desert”, “the dry well”, and “the dark night of the soul,” was where a life of prayer was leading me. Like the rest of society I crave the drama, and the big show. I am addicted to it just like everyone else. However, I have been learning that there will come a time in my spiritual life, if I am faithful in prayer, “When the Well Runs Dry.”*

Although it isn't easy to experience, it’s okay for the "well to run dry" because it’s a time when I will grow deeper and deeper in the knowledge and love of God. It’s a time when I will finally become free of the addiction to the fireworks of life, and my passion for God and his will to be done, will grow deeper, and deeper still.

*"When the Well Runs Dry" by Thomas H. Green, S.J.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Rest In God

"I believe that we have no real access to who we really are except in God. Only when we rest in God can we find the safety, the spaciousness, and the scary freedom to be who we are, all that we are, more than we are, and less than we are."
Richard Rohr - Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Grad '07

Well, we now have two graduates and I must say I am very proud of them both. We got to hang out with Jessica (that's her with her date in the picture above) at her banquet and during the her Grad cruise, and she handled herself with her usual class and dignity.

One of her best friends took some amazing pictures of her in her grad dress in Fort Langley, BC. To have a look go to and this is a slide show:

Sunday, July 1, 2007

C.H.Spurgeon said...