Mustard Seed Prayers—Readers’ Choice

Selected by reader, Jason from Texas
Prayer can take many forms and is not limited to a specific time and place. Our technology has taught us to abhor any downtime, fill any silence, and avoid every moment of solitude. It is these brief moments on the train, in the line, and on the couch when we can freely connect with an ever-present God.

Originally published, April 1, 2020, based on readings from Proverbs 19 & Colossians 2.

Scripture Focus: Colossians 4.2
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

Ephesians 6.18
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

Philippians 4.6
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Reflection: Mustard Seed Prayers—Readers’ Choice
By John Tillman (Prayer by Melissa Tillman)

There are some things which electronics cannot improve—some systems in which analog beats digital. Our previous car had no power-anything. Locks, windows, and seats all had to be moved manually. When it comes to the seats, my wife and I miss the manual adjustment. One swift movement— kachunk—was all it took for us to switch drivers. With the powered seat, we have to wait, listening to the electronic motor whirr. For me, this also involves cramming myself uncomfortably into the tiny space and waiting as it slowly expands. Even though it is only for a few seconds, we are accustomed to instantly moving from one to the other, and that makes it an annoying inconvenience. Power seats are an annoying waste of time.

Into this new crack of “waiting,” my wife injected the tiny seed of a prayer, similar to a breath prayer. At first, it was just to keep herself from being cranky about the powered seat—something similar to, “Keep me safe.” But it grew. It became a prayer that supported us through great difficulty and motivated us in tough decisions. We prayed the prayer at funerals, at weddings, when donating to causes, and when beginning difficult experiences. Soon it became a living prayer for our family. Many families have a “life verse,” but this became a “life prayer.”

“Lord, please keep us safe, keep us sane, help us focus.
Let our time, money, and energy 
Cover all that we need to do 
And all those we want to bless.”

Into any uncomfortable time of waiting, such as the one we are all in now, inject prayer. It is okay if it is not fancily worded. It is okay if it is selfish. It is okay if it is just a request. But don’t let it be just a stale repetition. Let it be like a seed that can grow. 

As God speaks to you, adjust your prayer. As new needs arise, adjust your prayer. As better wording occurs to you, adjust your prayer. Allow your prayer to be shaped and rewritten by your relationship with God and all that you learn and experience in God’s Word.

A prayer of a few words, thrown into an inconvenient crack in your life, can grow like a mustard seed into a towering tree that can provide spiritual shelter and sustenance for you and others.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Request for Presence
Hear the voice of my prayer when I cry out to you, when I lift up my hands to your holy of holies. — Psalm 28.2

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle

Today’s Readings
Jeremiah 46 (Listen – 4:59)
Psalm 22 (Listen – 3:49)

Read more about Breathing Prayers
Out of your relationship with God, you can also write your own breath prayers.

Read more about Supporting our Work
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Mustard Seed Prayers

Scripture Focus: Colossians 4.2
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

Ephesians 6.18
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

Philippians 4.6
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Reflection: Mustard Seed Prayer
By John Tillman (Prayer by Melissa Tillman)

There are some things which electronics cannot improve—some systems in which analog beats digital. Our previous car had no power-anything. Locks, windows, and seats all had to be moved manually. When it comes to the seats, my wife and I miss the manual adjustment. One swift movement— kachunk—was all it took for us to switch drivers. With the powered seat, we have to wait, listening to the electronic motor whirr. For me, this also involves cramming myself uncomfortably into the tiny space and waiting as it slowly expands. Even though it is only for a few seconds, we are accustomed to instantly moving from one to the other, and that makes it an annoying inconvenience. Power seats are an annoying waste of time.

Into this new crack of “waiting,” my wife injected the tiny seed of a prayer, similar to a breath prayer. At first, it was just to keep herself from being cranky about the powered seat—something similar to, “Keep me safe.” But it grew. It became a prayer that supported us through great difficulty and motivated us in tough decisions. We prayed the prayer at funerals, at weddings, when donating to causes, and when beginning difficult experiences. Soon it became a living prayer for our family. Many families have a “life verse,” but this became a “life prayer.”

“Lord, please keep us safe, keep us sane, help us focus.
Let our time, money, and energy 
Cover all that we need to do 
And all those we want to bless.”

Into any uncomfortable time of waiting, such as the one we are all in now, inject prayer. It is okay if it is not fancily worded. It is okay if it is selfish. It is okay if it is just a request. But don’t let it be just a stale repetition. Let it be like a seed that can grow. 

As God speaks to you, adjust your prayer. As new needs arise, adjust your prayer. As better wording occurs to you, adjust your prayer. Allow your prayer to be shaped and rewritten by your relationship with God and all that you learn and experience in God’s Word.

A prayer of a few words, thrown into an inconvenient crack in your life, can grow like a mustard seed into a towering tree that can provide spiritual shelter and sustenance for you and others.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Call to Prayer
I will give great thanks to the Lord with my mouth; in the midst of the multitude will I praise him;
Because he stands at the right hand of the needy, to save his life from those who would condemn him. — Psalm 109.29-30

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Proverbs 19 (Listen 3:09) 
Colossians 2 (Listen -3:45)

Read more about Breathing Prayers
Out of your relationship with God, you can also write your own breath prayers.

https://theparkforum.org/843-acres/breathing-prayers/

20200331

Read more about Prayer for Purpose, Community, and Freedom :: Guided Prayer
As we face a lengthening road through this crisis, we focus on prayer.

https://theparkforum.org/843-acres/breathing-prayers/

Prayer for Purpose, Community, and Freedom :: Guided Prayer

Scripture Focus: Proverbs 17.3-5
The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold,
    but the Lord tests the heart.
A wicked person listens to deceitful lips;
    a liar pays attention to a destructive tongue.
Whoever mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker;
    whoever gloats over disaster will not go unpunished.

Philippians 4.11-12
I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

From John: Hong Kong was one of the earlier cities struck by the virus and the quickest to react with measures viewed as extreme by westerners. Their response to the virus is one of the most successful in the world, yet they are approaching 70 days with schools closed and have no immediate plans to open. They are cautiously taking it week by week, partly due to a second bump in infections as people have traveled home to Hong Kong from other destinations.

In the United States, we are just settling in for this long haul. At this time, some are busier than ever. Among them are teachers, medical workers, first responders, and government officials. But also, many are experiencing a widening margin of unaccounted for time with no work to give purpose, no community activities to provide relational depth and little freedom of movement leading to a feeling of being trapped.

Reflection: Prayer for Purpose, Community, and Freedom :: Guided Prayer
By John Tillman

The COVID-19 crisis is far from over and normalcy is not around the corner.

As we face a lengthening road through this crisis, this week we focus on prayer. In prayer, we can meet with the God who has a purpose for us and for everything we suffer. In prayer, we can join with a worldwide community to experience being one with God, just as Jesus promised we would. In prayer, we can experience freedom from sins that chain us to mindsets of scarcity, fear, greed, apathy, selfishness, and addiction.

Let us pray over the following scriptures and prepare our hearts to deepen our practice of prayer this week.

Prayer for Purpose, Community, and Freedom:

“The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold,
    but the Lord tests the heart.”

You are testing our hearts today, Lord. Burn out of us whatever must go to make room for more of what you wish to plant in us. 

“A wicked person listens to deceitful lips;
    a liar pays attention to a destructive tongue.”

Deceitful and destructive speech is rampant in our world. We are addicted to it. We praise the cleverest put-downs, the harshest, destructive words, and the brusquest of manners. We are addicted to facts that are convenient to us, rather than convicting to us. 

Rebuild integrity in us. 
Renew a commitment to truth in us.

“Whoever mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker;
    whoever gloats over disaster will not go unpunished.”

When times get their hardest, the hardest parts of our hearts are often shown. Keep our hearts soft and our words and actions loving toward the most vulnerable and most needy among us.

“A friend loves at all times,
    and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” 

You have shown us, O Lord, how to be a friend. Let us willingly limit our freedoms to lovingly help our brothers and sisters in this time of adversity. May we lay down our lives for our friends.

I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

There do not exist circumstances in which we cannot be content, at peace, and joyful as we suffer along with our community and along with Christ who bears our burdens.

Come, Lord Jesus. Have mercy on us.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Prayer Appointed for the Week
Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep me both outwardly in my body and inwardly in my soul, that I may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Proverbs 17 (Listen 2:58) 
Philippians 4 (Listen -3:20)

Read more about Confession as a Crucible
The purpose of the crucible is to cause these things to rise so that they may be removed and us purified.

Read more about The Way of Love Amidst Fear
Fear is natural and one shouldn’t be ashamed of being afraid. However, the response of a Christian must be supernatural. 

Transformed by Koinonia

Scripture Focus: Philippians 1.4-6
In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Reflection: Transformed by Koinonia
By John Tillman

The word Paul uses to describe the partnership that he feels with the Philippian church is koinonia. Like many Greek words, it has multiple shades of meaning. The word in English primarily refers to the “fellowship” of the church as a community. This meaning is not incorrect, but another interpretation is of being a business partner or having a “share” or investment together in a business. 

Paul knows what it is to have partners in business, having supported himself at times through the skilled trade of tentmaking which he had in common with Priscilla and Aquila. However, the business to which Paul is referring, that we all have a share in, is the gospel.

The business of the gospel is the “putting right” of everything in the cosmos. And the means by which we do so is by “fellowship” or “partnership” with Christ Jesus, whose work continues until “the day of Christ Jesus.” There is no koinonia with Christ without change.

In this phrase, Paul is redefining the ancient Jewish concept of the “Day of the Lord.” This is the “last day” to which Martha refers when discussing her brother Lazarus’s future resurrection and is sometimes called the “eighth day” to symbolize that God is both ending and renewing creation.

This is a day when all will be put right. The day of Lord will be a day of leveling. It will mean tearing down those who have built themselves up and lifting up those who have been crushed.  Earth will be transformed into another place—a place in keeping with all that God desires for us, but we are too foolish to ask for or seek.

Christ’s correction of the cosmos is not limited to all that is without us but includes all that is within us. It is not just Earth that will be transformed but Earthlings. We, each of us, have an inner cosmos that must succumb to a “Day of the Lord” transformation. Within us are exalted idols and habits that must be torn down. Within us are fruits of the spirit that we have trampled under selfish feet.

As we submit to him, Jesus will, with axe and fire, tear down in us what must burn, and with tender nourishing care will tend and cultivate the fruit that he always designed to grow in us. Christ is our partner and our koinonia with him means every trial, suffering, isolation, loss, and sadness, shall work together for our betterment, strengthening, and righteousness.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. — 2 Corinthians 4.6

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Proverbs 14 (Listen 3:45) 
Philippians 1 (Listen -4:03)

This Weekend’s Readings
Proverbs 15 (Listen 3:36) Philippians 2 (Listen -3:45)
Proverbs 16 (Listen 3:15) Philippians 3 (Listen -3:21)

Read more about Jesus with Axe and Fire
John the Baptist describes a Christ who stands ready with both axe and fire. May we ask him regularly to cut down our idols.

Read more about Lamenting Materialism
In an environment in which some who claim Christ have suggested we sacrifice lives to save profitability, we need this lament more than ever.

The Step After Surrender :: Throwback Thursday

Scripture Focus: Philipians 4.11-13
I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

We can do without anything while we have God. Hallelujah! — Isabella Lillias Trotter

Reflection: The Step After Surrender :: Throwback Thursday
By Isabella Lillias Trotter

There is another stage to be developed in us after the lesson of absolute unquestioning surrender to God has been learnt. 

A life that has been poured forth to Him must find its crown, its completion, in being poured forth for man: it must grow out of surrender into sacrifice. “They first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.” 

Back to the Cross once more: if there is any place where this fresh lesson can be learnt, it is there! “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” 
It is the very love of Calvary that must come down into our souls, “Yea, if I be poured forth upon the service of your faith I joy and rejoice with you all:” so spoke the apostle who drank most deeply into the Master’s spirit: and again—“Death worketh in us, but life in you.” “Neither count I my life dear unto myself, that I may finish . . . the ministry.” 

Deeper and deeper must be the dying, for wider and fuller is the lifetide that it is to liberate—no longer limited by the narrow range of our own being, but with endless powers of multiplying in other souls. Death must reach the very springs of our nature to set it free: it is not this thing or that thing that must go now: it is blindly, helplessly, recklessly, our very selves. 

A dying must come upon all that would hinder God’s working through us—all interests, all impulses, all energies that are “born of the flesh”—all that is merely human and apart from His Spirit. Only thus can the Life of Jesus, in its intensity of love for sinners, have its way in our souls.

*From Parables of the Cross, by Isabella Lillias Trotter

Divine Hours Prayer: The Greeting
You are my hiding-place…you surround me with shouts of deliverance. — Psalm 32.8

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

1 Kings 13 (Listen – 5:14)
Philippians 4 (Listen – 3:20)

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Read more about Escaping Discontent
It is difficult to find contentment in a culture that works hard to foster discontent.

Read more about Greed and EnvyThe psalmist, is thrown into doubt and pushed to the limits of his understanding by the inequality he sees in the world.

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