Thursday, January 27, 2011
Saturday, January 15, 2011
Power, Love and Wisdom: Powerful New Testament Prayers
Saint Paul is not typically a favorite author among LGBT people. Many of us have a hard time with what looks like a bulk of anti-gay statements written by this early church founder. I believe God inspired Paul of Tarsus to write everything that is considered canonized in scripture, and with that, this Divine Inspiration came through an imperfect man in a very different time and culture. I think that if Christians use Paul's letters to condemn gays, they should use all the passages that condemn women and give our sisters equal treatment. But, churches can not afford to loose their women; and woman rarely change into men and will never be silenced anyway. Its like many churches think: let's just ignore, or reinterpret all the anti-female statements of Paul but still use Paul's letters to condemn gays. Then we have folks in our community that are so turned off to certain writers that its hard to receive from places that can really help us. I don't want to throw out parts of the Bible, they are all there for a reason, and we can learn from every word whether it is for us to literally apply to our lives today, or an eternal principal that was applied differently in another world from ours.
One of the things we know about Paul, is that he did not have a very strong charismatic personality to depend on. We even have record of someone falling asleep during one of his sermons. But we do find that St. Paul had access to a lot of spiritual power, as shown in this example:
1 Corinthians 2:1-5 (New King James Version) 1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. 3 I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. 4 And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
Where did he get all that "power of God"? I believe it came from a life filled with effective prayer. I am glad he gave us some insights into his prayers and perhaps we can learn what worked for him. The following passages of scripture are my favorites of St. Paul's prayers, and are the three "extended" prayers we have from Paul. There are a few other shorter passages like this, but I love how these three work in personal devotions. We see from the order they appear in the New Testament that we have a prayer for personal revelation of power followed by a personal revelation of love. The final prayer here is about character, and not only knowing what choices to make, but the integrity to carry out the spiritual wisdom we receive.
Ephesians 1:15-23 (New King James Version) 15 Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, 18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power 20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. 22 And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.
Ephesians 3:14-21 (New King James Version) 14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Colossians 1:-14 (New King James Version) 9 For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; 12 giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. 13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, 14 in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.
The following written prayers are based on these three passages. They can be prayed through one after the other, or separately, what ever your needs are. All through out the Bible, Like in II Chronicles 4:10, we see that it is OK to pray for ourselves.
Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, “Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!” So God granted him what he requested.
These special prayers can also be prayed for others, just replace "I" and "me" with "her" and "him" etc... I have also prayed this for me and one or more others at the same time by using "we" and "us". This is nice when I am partnered, and praying for a relationship. Paul was praying for a group of people as an example, but I think that these are the things that he also wanted for himself.
While attending a Bible school in the south, the founder of the school taught on how he would pray through these passages for himself as well as others, but he made special mention of praying these scriptures over himself, that it would result in the supernatural. That is one of our goals as Christians, besides demonstrating God's love, is to demonstrate God's power as well. What I mean by power is simply God moving, and showing others the healing, blessing miracle power of the Holy Spirit. One of the greatest needs in the LGBT affirming church communities is that we need more power. We bless others by including them and loving on them as they are; and yet when it comes to praying for a miracle, many of us are not making that step into the supernatural.
Here are my favorite prayers in the whole Bible. I like them so much, I think they should be prayed along with "the Lord's Prayer" found in Matthew six. But you must experience it for yourselves and see what kind of answers you get when you open your heart and pray humbly with these wonderful inspired words:
God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory,
I pray that you may give to me the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of You,
That the eyes of my understanding would be enlightened; that I may know what is the hope of Your calling, what are the riches of the glory of Your inheritance in me,
and what is the exceeding greatness of Your power toward me who believes, according to the working of Your mighty power
which You worked in Christ when You raised Him from the dead and seated Him at Your right hand in the heavenly places,
far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.
Thank You for saying in Your Word, "He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church,
which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all."
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,
that You would grant me, according to the riches of Your glory, to be strengthened with might through Your Spirit in my inner person,
that Christ may dwell in my heart through faith; that I, being rooted and grounded in love,
may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—
to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that I may be filled with all the fullness of You, God.
Thank You for saying in Your Word, "Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,
to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen."
Lord, I pray, and ask that I may be filled with the knowledge of Your will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
that I may walk worthy of You Lord, fully pleasing You, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in Your knowledge
strengthened with all might, according to Your glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy;
giving thanks to You, for Your word says, "the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light."
"He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins."
I know of folks that pray like this daily. If you desire variations to these prayers, try using a different translation. The New King James, and the King James seem to be the most powerful for me and praying through the Amplified Bible is also a real blessing.
Also, you can keep praying through some of the continuations of the scripture passages that I shared, like the next four verses after Colossians 1:14. There is something powerful about these divinely inspired words spoken out loud. Search more of the Bible to see what other passages to pray with. The Psalms are very powerful tools for your devotional times.
Stay on your knees, and enjoy your quality time with God!
Blessings and gay bear hugs,
Have you heard the song where it goes, "everything to God in prayer"? There are passages in the New Testament that refer to praying about all things. Some folks think this is an extreme statement about everything. When I was new in the faith, I heard references to hyper-religious (or hyper-spiritual) people that pray for guidance about what clothes they should wear that day. That kind of praying can be quite compulsive, like someone who gives thanks for the food they are eating before every bite! There are times when I leave the house and suddenly have an opportunity that arises where I wish I had worn something different. Let's say I am on my way to the gym and get inspired to serve the homeless on a cold winter day. Those are days I wish I had asked God what I should wear, and so far, I have never had that happen so I just wear whatever I think I need that day. God gave me a brain, and I try to use it. I can also check the weather to see if I get to wear long johns that day (am I talking about prayer or underwear? anyway, I do enjoy a cozy set of long johns...)
When it comes to praying about all things, "or all kinds of things" is how I like to think about it, its nice to know that we CAN bring anything to God, no matter how small of great. If you are worried about issues with clothes, pray about it. If you are naked, ask God for some threads and then go on with your day. If your landlord is bothering you, or your bank account is messed up, take it to the Lord in prayer. This creates a double blessing, perhaps a triple or more blessing: God delights to give to us and help us, thus drawing closer, you get an answered prayer and you may even get to share to others about how God answers prayers.
Something I have noticed since coming out and integrating my faith into my life being openly gay, is that I find that there are things I have to work at when mending these two identities together. When I was with my first partner, I found that my prayers were amazingly answered when I would pray for him. Then I found that God really would show up in our relationship when we would pray together. However, when I became single, I did not pray much about relationships. It may have been a habit, but even though I believed that God loved me and blessed me as I was, I still in my thinking connected dating with something that was going to take me away from God. For instance, if a date came over for a visit, I would hide my bibles and not mention anything about my faith in fear of loosing a potential lover. I also had guilt when it came to same-sex courting and sexuality that I was overcoming.
Then I realized that being a Christian gay meant that God was a part of my gay life, and all parts of my gay life including meeting other men to date. This has been hard for me because of years of thinking that pursuing men was a sin, now I am getting God Himself involved?! Indeed so. I can ask God to...
Create opportunities to meet someone special
Help me with wisdom in ways to meet others
Be with me when I meet with someone
Give me discernment about who to stay away from
Keep me safe from harmful people
Bless, lead and draw to God the person that I am dating
Open doors that are of God and close doors that are not
I have found that there were times in my single life where I felt drawn to pursue something careless or impulsive and knowing that I was headed for a harmful experience. Even in my blind drive for instant-intimacy and my "urge to merge", I have found myself asking the Lord to intervene. Its easy for guys to meet, men don't often say "no"and its too easy these days for gays to sleep around a lot, but I find it very hard to do so. I am grateful that God interrupts so many of my endeavors and stops my plans. There are even times when I don't even remember praying at all but I can see God's hand working in a situation like this. God really keeps me out of trouble, but I must remember that if I want something bad enough, God will give up fighting me and leave me to my own devices. I sure don't want to be where God's love and protection is not. I want God involved in every area of my life. I don't want compartments in my life that I try to keep from my spiritual life.
"...we ought to act with God in the greatest simplicity, speaking to Him frankly and plainly, and imploring His assistance in our affairs, just as they happen. "
Brother Lawrence - Practice of the Presence of God
Many of us grew up without parents that we could approach about anything and I think we tend to see God in the same ways we view mothers and fathers. It is God's pleasure to "give us the kingdom", which is a lot when I think about it. I love to give but I am pretty limited, but I would feel weird if I had everything and humans were not asking, even the ones closest to me.
So ask God about every kind of need in your life. God likes it! We all get blessed, go for it!
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
The following is an article that was on the prayer group, and because of the google groups formatting change, I thought I would post it here to preserve its nifty-ness:
Gay Bears - Guy Stuff and "Prayer Bears"
The "gay bear" movement has been known in the gay community as a group of masculine looking, and many times masculine acting gay men. This reaction against gay male stereotypes can be a positive role in the greater LGBT world. The bear movement seems to be more defined my appearances and sexuality than being masculine. What is there about being a masculine man that goes beyond the skin? Masculinity has many great qualities that postmodern society has been rediscovering, and sometimes even overemphasizing in these newer generations.
When searching for true manhood, let us remember some of the things that it means to be a man, and how our spirituality fits into this. In the gay and lesbian community, it seems as if the ladies have us beat when it comes to masculine traits! We can all learn something from each other. Spiritually speaking, prayer is the greatest weapon a gay man has, and we can fight the darkness with light if we would take a stand for God, kneel down to pray and lie down on our faces in true deep repentance. Let us find a weak person and be strong for them. Let us find a lost young fatherless person and be a spiritual father.
Let us be "prayer bears" and become Christ's representatives in the GLBT and gay bear communities. How about being a chaplain to a local bear bar or club? Everyone at times needs folks to marry and bury others. Bear events need someone to pray and give a message. Every sub-culture is important to God just as every culture is. Jesus said in Mark 16 to "preach the Gospel to every creature..." also in Matthew 28 He mentions "all nations", all "ethnos" which means every ethnic group. The principal is clear that all people are important to God and need to know this wonderful message of Christ.
We welcome resources for gay bears that have to do with the Christian faith, healthy gay masculinity, self acceptance and other sites that are "clean". Please e-mail at the gmail address under "gaypray" if you have any ideas, links or thoughts.
Here are two great places for Bears to go...
...and this is another group my ex boyfriend introduced me to:http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ChristianBearsGroup/