Like many of you, I began to use the Spiritual Formation Journal back in January. In fact, my first entry was on January 8th, the day we started a retreat as a staff team here at The Chapel. On that Monday I wrote, “Lord, today we begin as a staff to pray for renewal. Pastor Jonathan challenged us to ask two things: first ‘what do You, God want to show me about You this week and second what do You want to show me about me?!’” I had tried journaling several times throughout my maturing as a Christian, but this time I began to take it very seriously. Pastor Jerry has encouraged us as a church on many occasions to pray the Scriptures and I found that by writing them down in my journal I was able to stay focused in my prayer life. I start each day with opening to a passage of Scripture. I have begun with the Psalms and have spent several months making those Psalms, especially praise and adoration to God, the words of my prayers.
On Monday March 5th I prayed, “Lord, yesterday I was challenged with the question: can what I am living for answer my prayers?” That question led me to ask more of my own, “Lord, am I praying with confidence? I say that I want to see spiritual formation take solid ground in family and that I believe in intercessory prayer but, does my life reflect that?” In response to these questions God led me to pray the truth of Psalm 93: “You reign, You are robed in majesty, and You are armed with strength. The world is established firm and secure, His throne is from eternity, and holiness adorns His house for endless day.”
Saturday March 10th I prayed Psalm 102, “Lord, You are seated and enthroned forever and your fame is spread from generation to generation. There is coming a day when the nations will fear the name of the Lord and all the kings of the earth will reverence your glory. They will perish but You will remain the same and your years will never end.” Then I prayed a specific petition, “today is a stressful and different day than usual. My wife is leaving to see her very sick mother in Germany. I pray that she has one more opportunity to share Christ with her mom.” This began an incredible journey that God has used to show me much about Him.
At the end of the Second World War any German who had been living in Czechoslovakia was forced to make the return trip to Germany with nothing but the clothes on their back. Having lived through this experience my wife’s mother became very hardened spiritually, and could be described as an agnostic at best. My wife, however, who has always maintained a spiritual journal, had prayed every day for forty years that her mom would come to Christ. Every time she would try to witness, her mother would reply with the belief that we are all like dogs and when we die we go in the ground and that is it. When my wife arrived in Germany on Sunday March 11th, her eighty-five year old mother was not well. Her doctors did not expect her to make it through the weekend and for the first two days of their visit it was impossible to hold a meaningful conversation due to her health.
On the Wednesday of that week my wife went in to the hospital again and for the first time
in her visit her mom was finally alert. During the time that they had alone together my wife’s mother confided to her, “for the first time in my life I am losing courage.” My wife proceeded to share with her about the incredible love of God in sending His Son, Jesus Christ to die on a cross for her sins. This time my wife’s mother said she wanted to receive Christ and my wife led her in the prayer of salvation. Praise God!
Hearing about that experience the day before, when I sat down to journal on March 15th my prayer for that day was from Psalm 117, “Lord, I will therefore exalt you among the nations for great is your love for me and Your faithfulness endures forever.” I rejoice that my wife is able to be with her mom now and that she was able to hear her mother ask you to forgive her sins, calling to You as the thief on the cross did and to hear that “You have changed her testimony instead of ‘no longer having courage’ in its place she can say, ‘I am no longer afraid to die.’”
As to the second part of Pastor Jonathan’s challenge that I mentioned earlier, “what does God want to show me about Himself?” He has shown me through this experience and my diligence in journaling through it, that He wants to teach me about the power of intercessory prayer. In His word, he reminds us that His house shall be called a house of prayer and that there is great power in prayer. He has taught me the blessing of beginning each day in time with Him and praying the Scriptures. Among other things, keeping a journal enables me to know that I am truly hearing His voice as I see it have impact in my life. As I continue journaling I’m asking God to teach me to focus on four things: to know Christ, to reflect Christ, to share Christ, and to help others to grow in Christlikeness. These are my personal ways of saying that I am called to love God, love the Church and to love the world. To God be the glory, great things He has done!