Tears of Despair to Tears of Joy
J. asked to come pray for her home and bless it. In indigenous culture, this is quite common, to have an elder come to your home to smudge and pray over it. When we arrived at her house, it wasn’t long before J was in tears, crying tears of despair, as she poured out her predicament and pain. This children were completely out of control, even as we talked with this distraught and overwhelmed mother of four.
Vivian and I are always quite careful when asked to pray over someone’s home, because for us, we always want to focus on the spiritual growth of the individual. Remember the old adage, give a man a fish; teach a man to fish? Well, it’s the same principle: Pray for an individual, and they will experience peace as long as they can abide under that umbrella of prayer, but teach a person to pray and they can abide in peace whenever they choose. The model prayer, of course, is the Lord’s Prayer, found in the gospels of Matthew (6:9-13) and Luke (11:2-4). Many people however, learn to pray by rote without every really understanding the prayer itself. Praying by rote is actually treating prayer more as a magical incantation than a Divine petition.
Without getting into any silly controversy over versions, wording and so forth, we simply look at what each word and line means in light of the rest of Scripture. Thus, Matthew’s version includes seven petitions, three of which address God, followed by four personal petitions. Tradition then adds a doxology at the end.
Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 14:15 to pray with the Spirit and with understanding.
Pray with Understanding
Many people pray the Lord’s Prayer without any clear understanding of what they are saying. For example, can they actually call God their Father? J. having confessed Jesus as Lord and Saviour can, but the word “Father” carried a lot of baggage. Working our way through the prayer identified a number of issues and we tackled them patiently one by one as we ourselves were taught by our mentors. It took quite some time, but I remember our mentors taking almost 8 hours one day with me!
Armed with a new understanding of who God is, who she was created to be, what Jesus had accomplished and purchased for her at the cross and the wonderful relationship she had with God, J began to pray, haltingly at first, but with growing boldness.
She identified the false idol in her home. She took up the spiritual authority over her home and children. She declared peace, submitting to God and resisting the enemy, and she blessed her children. It is hard for me to describe the enormous sense of wonder that captivated me as she pushed through to take up the victory! The peace that descended upon her home was palpable. By the time we left, the children had settled, (even sitting on her lap and hugging her) and tears of joy were streaming down her face.
it is not us, nor anything about us, but it is all about Jesus Christ in her and now in her home. We know that this is but the beginning of a long journey. There will be many ups and downs as she learns and grows in her faith, but we are encouraged by the new depth of her understanding of prayer.
For those who are curious about the smudging – turn out, we didn’t use any after all. Sometimes, we will use it, simply as a comforting smell, or calming scent, but nothing more. Christ is our all and in all (Colossians 3:11). We pray with the Spirit, but we pray with understanding.
This is what we teach.
Nick and Vivian Helliwell
Prayer and Praise
- Praise that our support is up where it should be!
- Prayer for a new vehicle. Our 2006 van got us through this far, but with over 300,000 km, who knows how much further!
- Praise that M received custody of his daughter!
- Prayer for Nick’s youth ministry challenges.
- Praise for the growth in our ministry as well as at Gentle Road.
- Pray for Nick’s guitar that got stolen from the church.
- Praise for Vivian’s health recovery after having pneumonia twice this winter.
- Prayer for Discipleship Outreach Event planning (details soon to be announced).
- The Brothers In the Hood group is quite small this year, but going well.
- 12 youth at the “Gentle Bear” retreat – a partnership with Whitebear First Nations.
- Mentoring a couple in ministry as they lead a small mental health prayer group.
- We are encouraged by F who has a good job and started attending church since being released from jail. He also recognizes that he needs God’s healing rather than another relationship.