What Happens After the Weekend part 2

After a Via de Cristo weekend we’re usually eager to leap into action, but we need to remember that Christian action must be accompanied by piety and study or our Christian life will not maintain a good balance.

First and foremost, we must pray. All of us, as part of our Christian walk, should continually ask God to lead us to the ministry opportunities that are both appropriate for us and pleasing to Him. In the book of Ephesians, the apostle Paul says:

“We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which he prepared in advance for us to do.”

Isn’t that exciting? God already has a plan for each of us, but if we don’t take the time to listen for His voice we may never discover what it is.

That doesn’t mean we can never be spontaneous. I remember once I was at a church council meeting when the newsletter was being discussed. It had been published sporadically and one member suggested we just discontinue it. Well, I really enjoyed getting the newsletter and I like to write, so the Holy Spirit only had to nudge me once. I volunteered to be the editor and did it for quite a few years. However, often we don’t feel so clearly led. If you are not sure, take some time to pray before rushing into a new area of service. There was the time, years ago, when the Via de Cristo community decided to try putting together a Co-ed weekend (up to this point, all the weekends had been either solely for men or solely for women). We knew that adding an extra weekend to the schedule would increase the need for team members, and our first thought was how fun and interesting it would be to serve together. After praying about it, we both realized the timing was wrong. Our daughter Kate, was coming home from her year as an exchange student in Germany around that time, and we needed to reconnect with her and help her with things like getting a drivers license and visiting colleges. God was calling us to put that responsibility first, so we decided not to serve on a team for a while.

For more about prayer see:

Beginning the Day with Prayer

Pray Without Ceasing

Learning to Pray by James Martin, SJ–Book Review

Stay tuned for study .

Deeper by Dane C. Orland — Book Review

Subtitled, “Real Change for Real Sinners”, this book is about the process of sanctification. At first, I found it a bit simplistic — but that is actually the author’s point. We all need to go back to the basics in order to grow. Real, positive growth happens when we go deeper and deeper into the basics that we may have known for years.

The first step, if we’re growing in Christ, is to know what Christ is like. Then we need to despair — despair of being able to save ourselves on our own. We have to see and admit the sin that is always with us. When we collapse into the love of Christ, we are united with Him. We’re transformed, and our future is no longer bound up in the sinful Adam –we’re a new creation in Christ. All of this is the necessary foundation that leads to the dynamics by which believers change. We have been acquitted, or justified and are now reconciled with God.

The author then turns toward the question of how we practically, absorb the truth of our salvation into our daily lives. He focuses on two tools which he considers most important — the Bible and prayer. Our relationship with Christ must be nurtured and fed.

So, yes, this is a book about basics, and the most basic instruction is this — Look to Christ. We need to reminded, and to follow His teachings and example every day.


The Lutheran Ladies received a free e-copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review. Disclaimer pursuant to FTC 16 CPR 255.

For more book reviews see these posts:

Pure In Heart by J. Garrett Kell–Book Review

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger–Book Review

Every Which Way to Pray by Joyce Meyer–Book Review

Song of Creation by Paul Goble — Book Review

Adapted from The Book of Common Prayer, this book for children age 5-10 is beautifully illustrated by the author, Paul Goble. With bright, delightful pictures that youngsters and parents will love, Goble shows every element of creation — birds and animals, day and night, ice and cold, sun and moon, winds and water, plants and air –worshipping and glorifying God, the Creator of it all. It’s a good reminder that God’s presence is all around us.

Each page includes a few verses in smaller type, reminding the reader that they can add verses and ideas of their own.

Children will enjoy and quickly pick up on the liturgical statement that is repeated over and over:

bless you the Lord: praise Him and magnify Him forever.”

However, parental involvement will be needed to unpack the meaning in a way children can understand.


For more books for children see:

The Promises of God Storybook Bible by Jennifer Lyell–Book Review

Great and Small Prayers for Babies — Book Review

God is Hope by Amy Parker–Book Review

Every Which Way to Pray by Joyce Meyer–Book Review

The animals at the Everyday Zoo want to be closer to God and that means prayer! But what is the right way to pray? Harley the hippo has a book on prayer with lots of rules — kneel, speak softly, and use special “holy” words, for example. However, as he talks to the other animals he learns that you can pray:


*In a loud voice, or without words at all

*Kneeling or standing, walking or even upside down!

*For a long time or with just one word — like HELP!

The important thing is to stay in touch with God, and to pray from your heart.

Every Which Way to Pray (Everyday Zoo) by [Joyce Meyer, Mary Sullivan]

The bright illustrations by Mary Sullivan, would make this a great book to read out loud to a Sunday School group, or with your youngster at home. Children will be able to understand and relate to the message that prayer is not difficult and can become an everyday activity. It’s probably best suited for children age 4-7.

VERDICT: 5 STARS. I recommend it.

For more books for children see:

Little Sweet Pea, God Loves You — Book Review

GraceFull by Dorena Williamson — Book Review

When I Hold You by Ashley Huffstutler–Book Review

Walking With Jesus–Devotion #5

As we go through our day-to-day lives, it is helpful to know we’re heading in the right direction. That might mean finding the way to a new store or the home of a friend. It is really helpful for someone who is familiar with the route, to ride along with us and show us the way.

This is also true in our walk with God. It helps to really feel as if Jesus is there, right beside us, as we make decisions at our job or are coping with the stress that is usually part of every day. For many Christians getting through the day means sending a lot of little prayer “arrows” –asking for help, guidance, and patience– to God and knowing He hears and is there to help us overcome those everyday temptations.

He is always there, and if if feels like He’s not, then we know who moved!

Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Mark 14:48


For more about making choices see:

It’s Your Choice

Choosing to Sin

Can We Pick & Choose?

When You’re Sick #2

If you’ve been sick (as I have recently When You’re Sick), you may feel depressed and have trouble praying. If so, you can rely on “other peoples’ prayers” (Prayer in the Night by Tish Harrison Warren–Book Review) like this one. I found it helpful and comforting.

Lord, the day is drawing to a close, and like all the other days, it leaves me the impression of utter defeat. I have done nothing for You: neither have I said conscious prayers, nor performed works of charity, nor any work at all, work that is sacred for every Christian who understands its significance. I have not even been able to control that childish impatience and those foolish rancours which so often occupy the place that should be Yours in rhe “no man’s land” of my emotions. It is in vain that I promise You to do better. I shall be no different tomorrow, nor on the day that follows.

When I retrace the course of my life, I am overwhelmed by the same impression of inadequacy. I have sought you in prayer and in the service of my neighbor, for we cannot separate You from our brothers any more than we can we our body from our spirit. But in seeking You do I not find myself? Do I not wish to satisfy myself? Those works that I secretly termed good and saintly, dissolve in the light of approaching eternity, and I dare no longer lean on these supports that have lost their stability.

Even actual sufferings bring me no joy because I bear them so badly. Perhaps we are all like this: incapable of discerning anything but our own wretchedness and our own despairing cowardice before the light of the Beyond that waxes on our horizon.

But it may be, O Lord, that this impression of privation is part of a divine plan. It may be that in Your eyes, self-complacency is the most obnoxious of all fripperies, and that we must come before You naked so that You, You alone, may clothe us.

Marguerite Teilhard de Chardin

Mme. de Chardin was foundress of Union of the Sick in France during the 1930s.

For More prayers see:

Prayer to the Holy Spirit #2

Great and Small Prayers for Babies — Book Review

A Prayer of Surrender

Pray Without Ceasing

My devotional reading today reminded me of Paul’s instructions to the church in Thessalonica,

” Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

The quote was written by H.L. Sidney Lear:

It is a good thing to have fixed seasons for lifting up the heart to God, not merely the appointed hours of prayer, but a momentary act before and after meals, beginning any occupation, entering into society, leaving the house, etc. Especially it is a help to make such brief acts after having said or done anything either wrong or foolish, after any trifling vexation or disappointment, when the spirit feels, it may be, wounded and desolate, or when one’s vanity is annoyed at having been guilty of some little folly or unseemliness. Sometimes we are more really troubled and sore at trifles of this sort than at far weightier things. But if all such things were met with a momentary uplifting of the heart to God, all these little frailties and worries would tend to mould the character more and more to God’s pattern, and they would assuredly lose their sting; for he who thinks much of God will daily think less of himself.”

For more on prayer see these posts:

Begin With Prayer

The Holy Spirit and Prayer

Prayer and Charity

The Challenge of Small Things

My devotional reading this morning reminded me that we can grow through the challenge of the smallest circumstances in our lives.

It is small things that, just because of their smallness, distress and overset us. I mean the weight of daily care, which in their small details of personal expenditure, and in the careful routine of a household, and in the rearing of children, and in the society of friends, and in the outside duty, and in private affairs, singly and separately is sufficiently burdensome; but altogether, and on one set of shoulders, is sometimes felt to be more than the strength can bear. Those anxious lives, tempted to be fretful, and hasty, and self-important, and fussed with their incessant activities, may, if rightly interpreted, and manfully grasped, settle down into round and sunny centres of regular, and peaceful and fruitful activities. Where there is prayer, there is peace; and God, who makes every duty possible, knows, helps, and cares. Anthony W. Thorold

Anthony Thorold (1825-1895) was an Anglican Bishop of Winchester. For more of his quotes see:

More on Fruit of the Spirit

When Things are Unclear– Trust God

Two Quotes on the Sacrificial Life

Photo by Rodolfo Clix on Pexels.com

Spiritual Formation by Henri Nouwen–Book Review

Henri Nouwen doesn’t see the spiritual journey as a ladder, with continual movement up toward greater maturity.  Rather he describes it as movement from the mind to the heart through prayer.  The movements he discusses in this book are:

  • From opaqueness to transparency
  • From illusion to prayer
  • From sorrow to joy
  • From resentment to gratitude
  • From fear to love
  • From exclusion to inclusion
  • From denying to befriending death

Spiritual formation takes time, it’s personal and inward, and it is best done with the support of others.  It involves moving inward and moving outward.

Each chapter begins with one of Henri’s favorite stories, or parables and also an image.  There are suggestions for both lection divina (meditative reading of Scripture) and visio divina (meditating on a sacred image).  Reflection questions at the end of each chapter are good for journaling and applying the material to your own spiritual life.

VERDICT:  5 STARS.  As usual, Henri Nouwen does not disappoint.  His work resonates deeply with me, and I enjoyed doing some of the exercises provided.

For more about Henri Nouwen see:

Henri Nouwen on the Blessing of Poverty

Learning from Henri Nouwen & Vincent van Gogh by Carol A. Berry–Book Review

Spiritual Direction by Henri Nouwen with Michael J. Christensen & Rebecca J. Laird–Book Review


Learning to Pray by James Martin, SJ–Book Review

I’ve read so many books on prayer, I almost skipped this one.  I’m glad I didn’t.  This is truly one of the best guides on the prayer life that I’ve seen.  Don’t miss it!

James Martin, a Jesuit priest covers many different ways to pray, just as I would have expected.  There are chapters on Ignatian contemplation, lectio divina, centering prayer, the daily examen, rote prayers, petitionary prayers and more.  He does a good job of clearly explaining all of these techniques.  He is quick to say there is no “right” way to pray, and different things work for different people;  however, he encourages Christians to get out of their comfort zones and try something new.

Learning to Pray: A Guide for Everyone by [James Martin]

In addition, Martin broaches a number of topics that are less usual in a prayer guide.  There is a chapter on “praying without knowing it” which contains nine types of prayer you may be using, but not even considering prayer:  things like feeling compassion, thinking about something that inspires you, wondering whether God approves of you or about the meaning of your life.  Another chapter addresses what happens when you pray:  the emotions, insights, memories, desires, images and feelings that may arise during prayer.  There are sections about why we should pray, obstacles to prayer, and how prayer should lead to action and change.  He closes with other disciplines such as retreats, spiritual direction and journaling that are related to prayer.  A list of additional resources on a variety of the topics covered is included.

Most of us feel guilty about our prayer life, and there is always room for improvement.  However, this book will expand your definition of prayer, and give you a host of ideas to try.  It also explains that spiritual life, like every part of life, has ups and downs. Sometimes feeling dry, distracted or even depressed as we pray is not unusual.  Every period of prayer will not yield mystic experiences or deep insights.  The key is to treasure the special moments and simply to persevere in God’s presence.

VERDICT:  5 STARS.  I loved it!

For more on prayer see:

Fanning the Flame #8 — Prayer Vision

Prayer Works

The Prayer that Never Fails