Drawing closer to god through prayer

and The Word of God

Articles by Ann Fitzgerald regarding the power of prayer,

the daily reading of the Bible (The Word of God)

along with seasonal church related observances

I'm Nobody, who are you?

Are you nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us -- don't tell!
They'd banish us – you know!  Emily Dickenson

The first and deadliest of lies is: I’m a nobody. It was introduced in the garden of Eden when Satan beguiled Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit and become like God. Adam and Eve who were made in the image of God doubted their identity becoming slaves to sin and nomads in a world that had once been created for their joy.

There is another time that Satan posed the question, ‘Who are you?’ Jesus had just been baptised as God spoke from the heavens, “This is my beloved Son,” when Satan posed three challenges. Each one meant to seed doubt into Jesus’ mind about his own identity. As recorded in Matthew 4:1-11, “If you are the Son of God… turn these stones into bread. If you are the Son of God throw yourself from the pinnacle of this temple. If you are the Son of God, deny your identity and the kingdoms of this world be yours.” And Jesus responded, “Begone, Satan! For it is written, ‘you shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’”

I dare say that Jesus was able to stand in the midst of such temptations not because of who he was but because of his relationship with God, his heavenly Father. Jesus was solid in his knowledge that he was the Son of God. The good news is that we also are the children of God as it says in 1 John 3:1-3. “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! and that is what we are!... now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”

Next time doubt shadows your joy remember you are a son or a daughter of our most High King. See also: John 1:12, Romans 5:1, Jeremiah 31:3, Genesis 12:1-20, Psalm 139:13-16, 2 Thessalonians 2:13, 1 Peter 2:9, Isaiah 42:1, Deuteronomy 7:6 and more…

a mother's legacy

I found a snapshot in a book my Mother made years ago. The photo was a small black and white snapshot with a white border and deckle edge, set carefully on a black page and secured with black sticky corners. The words ‘Ann’s birthday’ was carefully printed with a white pencil. I studied the picture looking for clues to favorite memories when I noticed that each paper cup had 2 straws. This seemingly small detail might have gone un-noticed if I had not recognized the extravagance it suggested. The extravagance did not have a dollar sign but it did have the mark of my mother who knew how to make a simple birthday party into a backyard celebration.

It could be said that my mother left me a legacy of ‘seeing’. Seeing extravagance in the simple details of life is a legacy passed from my grandmother through my mother given to me. The art of turning a simple meal into an event was my mother’s expression of a heritage of caring. It is as if each generation whispers to the next generation, “you are special”.

God prepared a rich inheritance for us, purchased by the death and resurrection of Jesus, sealed by the Holy Spirit.

        2nd Corinthians 1:22 (NLT)…God has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts             that guarantees everything he has promised us

       Ephesian 1:18 (NLT) I pray that your hearts be flooded with light so you can understand the                             confident hope he has given to those he called his holy people who are his rich and glorious                         inheritance.

With such an inheritance we, as children of God, live with the legacy of love as a witness to the world around us. Daily we grow into the likeness of God spending time in prayer and scripture, living out of the grace of God lavishly poured out upon us. This is our legacy. It is as if God whispers to each generation, “you are special”

Every mother leaves a legacy for her child, like an imprint of her presence on a child’s heart. What legacy did your mother leave you? What legacy will you leave your child?

Ann Fitzgerald ...May 12, 2019

There is great power in the prayer of a faithful mother   

This is a simple statement and yet I am lost for words to express the truth of the message. I can only offer stories of great leaders of the church throughout history.

The first story is of Augustine, one of the 1st priestly authors to change the course of the Christian church. He spoke about his mother’s life-long sacrificial dedication to prayer for her family. She did not waver in her faithful prayers for her son to turn from his wicked ways and to know and submit his life to Christ. Augustine wrote these words as a prayer regarding his Mother. “You sent down your help from above and rescued my soul from the depths of this darkness because my mother, your faithful servant, wept to you for me, shedding more tears for my spiritual death than other mothers shed for the bodily death of a son.” (Confessions, 3:11)

A 2nd story is about Hudson Taylor, English missionary responsible for the China Inland Mission reaching over 125,000 Chinese people with the gospel. Hudson Taylor wandered from his Christian upbringing to seek his fortune in an environment that outwardly mocked the Christian faith. He soon embraced a life-style of earthly pleasure focused only on gain. He lost interest in his faith and walked away from God. His mother Amelia was on her knees in fervent prayer that God would have mercy on her son toward repentance and commitment to God’s work. Hudson Taylor was reformed, gave his life to God’s work. He leaned on his mother’s prayers until her death in 1881.

This final story is about D.L. Moody, evangelist and priestly writer, known for his work among college students. Moody’s early attempts to work with students left him discouraged and questioning his adequacy for the task as he watched a group of 1700 students dwindled to 100. He reached out for help but he did not choose more powerful preachers, or greater theologians but turned to those he knew would turn to God for mercy. He gathered mothers in the area imploring them to pray. Three hundred mothers responded, fell on their knees, cried out to God with streaming tears in fervent prayer for God to come in power upon these young men. That very night the tide turned as young men committed themselves to God’s ministry.

There is great power in the prayer of a faithful mother. There is hope for our wayward sons and daughters when we dedicate ourselves to fervent and heartfelt prayers.

I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.2 Timothy 1:5

Ann Fitzgerald, April 28, 2019

Why are you crying? Who do you seek?

Mary stood weeping at the empty tomb. Two nights ago, every hope of Israel’s redemption hung on the cross for all the world to see the shame of a nation in this man, Jesus. His words of compassion, hope and promises of resurrection were still fresh in her mind as they laid his body in a tomb.

Before dawn of the 3rd day Mary made her way to the tomb burdened with spices to prepare Jesus’ body for burial. The stone used to block the entrance had been rolled away and she stooped down to look into the tomb. It was empty. Nothing made sense anymore and thinking that someone had taken his body away, she began to weep.

A man approached her whom she suspected was the gardener, and asked her, “Woman, why do you cry? Who are you looking for?” Mary replied, “Sir tell me where you have taken the body and I will go get it.” This man, thought to be the gardener, was Jesus, but she did not recognize him until he spoke her name, “Mary”, and she turned to him and cried, Rabboni” (which is teacher).

Today we are surrounded by Easter lilies, butterflies, colored eggs and children dressed in fancy clothes. Spring time follows winter just as day follows night promising joy in the morning. Easter morning follows good Friday and today Christians around the world celebrate an empty tomb and a risen Christ.

And yet in the midst of springtime celebration, still the tears, still the broken dreams and unknown longings burden human hearts. There are times in my life when I can see only an empty tomb but in these times, I hear the gardner ask, “Why do you weep? Who are you looking for?” and then I hear the Savior say my name reminding me once again, He has risen, He has risen indeed!”

(there are four accounts of the women who go to the tomb on Easter morning. This writing refers to the account in the gospel of John.)

Ann Fitzgerald, April 21

palm sunday

The hosannas of Palm Sunday mark the beginning of holy week, a time set aside to remember               the days leading up to the arrest, the torture, shame and crucifixion of Jesus Christ. It is a               time for solemn meditation and recognition of our own human nature and the sin that so

       easily entangles us. I am painfully aware how quickly my praise turns to complaint when I                desire to serve God. In Romans 7:15 St Paul describes this same dilemma in his own life                             when he says, “I  do not understand what I do; for I don’t do what I would like to do, but                                          instead I do what I hate.” (good news translation)

                                            I try to imagine Palm Sunday so many centuries ago. I can imagine a                                                       morning filled with such a sun that darkness must have cowered in the                                       dawn. I can imagine a sky filled with the promise of new hosannas. The air                                turned green as palm branches were gathered and used to line the streets for the                celebration of God’s kingdom restored. Shouts of hosanna rang through the streets, great laughter and joy at the arrival of Jesus, a King to claim his rightful place had come into their presence. I wonder if it mattered that their king was clothed in a rough cloak and riding on a donkey. No matter, the wonderful sound of jubilation continued to echo through streets. It would be only a few more days but a lifetime of agony as the King became a criminal and the people became the judges. Oh, how life can turn, as our allegiance shifts and the hope of this new dawn turns into the deep purple of ominous clouds on the horizon of holy week.

Dear Jesus, I watch as you ride into our presence on a donkey and confess that often my hallelujahs are swallowed up in doubt. Have mercy on me as I walk through this week of your sacred passion knowing that every tear, every beating, every drop of your blood that hit the ground was given so that I can know life more fully now and, in your glory, forever. amen

Ann Fitzgerald, April 14, 2019

The power of prayer in walking

There was a morning, in the middle of a dreary week, there was a morning though I do not know the day it was. Tuesday or maybe Thursday, though the day was not important, nor do I suppose the time of day, except I know it was in the morning light. God kissed me in the morning light and the sweetness stayed on my lips and I could almost taste that early morning breakfast Jesus set before my soul. There are times when I can almost touch, almost see and smell the unmistakable fragrance in a room when God’s spirit gently blows, gently blows through this world that He loves. God’s Spirit, though invisible, is yet tangible, though we cannot see it yet we can perceive His presence. The wind cannot be seen but its presence is evident by the effects that we see.

Jesus walked on the water and the Spirit blows across the earth and God lives in our hearts today and that is why we must go. Wherever children play, or workers work, in the alleys where the homeless sleep or the broken-hearted cry, we must go. There we will find God’s Spirit calling to us to pray. If we go and if we watch and if we listen, we will hear God speak to us in urgent tone to pray for those who have not heard.

So, in those times of gentle touch when the Holy Spirit wakes us with a morning kiss, then let us rise and quickly go to those places where God calls for us to go. And there, God’s presence will be known in our presence, because we prayed. Go, walk, pray, and in this God will be glorified.

Prayer walking is the practice of praying on location for people in the neighborhoods and areas where we walk. It is said that prayer walking is praying on site with God’s insight.

The prayer book, “Seek God for the City”, has daily prompts for prayer walking.

Ann Fitzgerald, April 7, 2019

Co-Laboring with god through prayer

Bill Gaultiere offers these thoughts about prayer.

Drawing close to Jesus is the only way to grow in prayer.

Prayer is a way of life in which we converse with God, at his initiative, so that we are “co-laboring” with him in all that we do to accomplish the good things that advance his Kingdom. For prayer to become a way of living intimately with the Lord it must first be a spiritual discipline.

Jesus Calls us to Pray with Him

It’s important that we think of prayer, not as mustering up energies and words, but as joining in with God’s activity.

Jesus shows us this. The love of the Father and the movement of the Holy Spirit called him into listening to God and praying for people. Repeatedly in the Gospels we read statements like, “While it was still dark Jesus went out to pray” (Mark 1:35, paraphrased), “Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray” (Luke 6:12), “Jesus was praying in private” (Luke 9:18), or “Jesus went out to his usual place of prayer.” (Luke 11:1, paraphrased). Jesus didn’t just have a “prayer life” — he had a praying life in which he continually invoked God’s presence in all that he did. Prayer lived in him, even in his unconscious demeanor.

Jesus still calls to us as he did to his disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane,  “Watch and pray with me” (Matthew 26:41, paraphrased). He’s calling us into the conversation and activity of heaven! He is in the middle of the Trinitarian community, shining in glory and love, surrounded by angels and saints, inviting us to participate with them in the Kingdom of the Heavens. He is at the  right hand of the Father interceding for us (each of us and those around us). His Spirit lives in us who bear his name and is also interceding for us. What a place to be! 

Bill Gaultiere, pastor, spiritual director, family counselor runs a website offering resources for a closer walk with God. https://www.soulshepherding.org/

Ann Fitzgerald - April 1, 2019

Breath prayers

Life is a journey meant to be lived fully with our heart, mind and soul embracing all the joys and sorrows we encounter. Jesus tells us to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, strength. Can this apply to prayer? The practice of praying in pace with our breathing invites us to do just that. Breath prayer has been practiced by Christians throughout history making conversation with God a part of everyday life.

A Breath prayer is a body, mind and spirit activity; one balances and strengthens the other and no part can fully work without the other. Deep breathing allows the lungs to distribute oxygen to the brain slowing down the heart, relaxing the body and reducing excessive anxiety levels. This in turn clears the mind bringing about new insights into God’s will and freeing our spirit for constant communion with the one who knows us best.

‘Be Still and know that I am God’ is a familiar verse that works well for breath prayers. As you slowly inhale whisper the words ‘be still’. Pause and as you completely exhale say the second half of the verse, ‘and know that I am God.’ Think about each word as you pray knowing that God longs to hear every thought and to be present in every moment of our lives.

I particularly like using 1st Corinthians 13 for a breath prayer for walking in this reformatted copy. Slowly breathe in the 1st half of the line and exhale the 2nd half of each line.

     Breath Prayer from 1st Corinthians 13

      Give me grace to love: to be patient & kind

       Give me grace to love: without jealousy

         Give me grace to love: without arrogance

           Give me grace to forgive: grace to let go

             Give me grace to love: to rejoice in truth

               Give me grace to love: grace to believe

                 Give me grace to love: grace to hope

                   Give me grace to love: grace to endure

                        “Rejoice at all times. Pray without ceasing” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17

Ann Fitzgerald March 24, 2019