Lord, Teach Us To Pray…or…Yes, There Is A Wrong Way To Pray

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Lord, Teach Us To Pray

By Rick Lee James

One of the great myths of our time is that there is no wrong way to pray. The myth is that we can just start talking about any random thing to God and that counts as prayer. Jesus taught His followers to have the faith of a child. We teach children to pray by helping them to memorize prayers. We say simple prayers like, “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep.” As a child my parents began teaching my sister and I the Lord’s Prayer every night before bed. In time our prayers became a part of us. We came to pray simple childlike prayers as though they were a breath. “Thank you Jesus for this food, help us to be kind and good. Amen” I would contend that this is a good first step in how we learn to pray.

 

Authentic prayer will properly form us as people and as children of God. The way a person prays will tell us much about thier faith, who they believe God is, and who they believe they are.

 

Prayer is not a self-help activity. I would contend that even in our individual, private prayer times, we never truly pray alone. Self-help is not an answer to the things human beings face because the fact is that we cannot help ourselves. We become properly formed with the help of others, and an Other specifically, who shape us, forms us, and re-form us. Sometimes this re-formation is painful but it always merciful and full of grace.

 

Prayer books are wonderful ways to learn how to pray and they help us to be properly formed by putting right words into our mouths. They are aids in helping us listen to the Holy Spirit rather than the Spirit of the age. The Book of Psalms is the most ancient prayer book of the people of God possess, unique in that it shows how we are to respond to God, not just how He comes to us. There are many other prayers in scripture and there are many extra-cannonical prayer books as well. The book of Common Prayer, a favorite of John Wesley, has been used by the church for centuries to teach disciples how to pray. When Jesus’ disciples asked how to pray, they expected to be taught a prayer, and in fact they were given a prayer to pray. Jesus never said, just start talking and God will do the rest. No, Jesus taught us how to pray by teaching us prayers.

 

My encouragement to us today it to be properly formed in prayer. Study prayers in the Bible and in other Orthodox prayer books. Memorize them, recite them, read them aloud to each other until they become your prayers. Today I leave you with two of my favorite prayers from the book of Common prayer, one of John Wesley’s beloved prayer books. May The Lord bless us as we are properly formed together in prayer. “Lord, teach us to pray.”

 

From The Book of Common Prayer:

 

Prayer For the Unity of the Church

O God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, our only Savior,
the Prince of Peace: Give us grace seriously to lay to heart the
great dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions; take away
all hatred and prejudice, and whatever else may hinder us
from godly union and concord; that, as there is but one Body
and one Spirit, one hope of our calling, one Lord, one Faith,
one Baptism, one God and Father of us all, so we may be all
of one heart and of one soul, united in one holy bond of truth
and peace, of faith and charity, and may with one mind and
one mouth glorify thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Prayer For Church Musicians and Artists

O God, whom saints and angels delight to worship in
heaven: Be ever present with your servants who seek through
art and music to perfect the praises offered by your people on
earth; and grant to them even now glimpses of your beauty,
and make them worthy at length to behold it unveiled for
evermore; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

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Podcast #108: Guest – Amy Savin

Podcast 108

 

LISTEN HERE:

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Amy Savin is a talented Christian musician who brings back to Christian music a depth of lyric and intricate artistry slightly lost in recent years. The songs are a beautiful hybrid of haunting and striking melodies set to lyrics that are made for fun listening and personal growth. Amy’s voice and songwriting harkens back to the stylings of Nicole Nordeman with the addition of an understated falsetto range not attempted since the quiet ballads of Rachael Lampa. Amy’s music is pleasantly unique thanks to her break-out vocal updrafts that pierce through tracks like “Hide Me”, “Fly Robin”, “Skylines”, and the Ed Cash smash “Hymn 177”. I have a great conversation with Amy and share a few of her songs on this week’s episode of the Voices In My Head Podcast.

Amy Savin’s Web Site: www.AmySavin.com

 

 

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“Freely you received, freely give.” — Matthew 10:8

Get a free Easter album with Sheet music from Rick Lee James on Noisetrade

Easter Worship Exp 2014Easter Worship Experience 2014 with Rick Lee James on Noisetrade.com

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Click Here To Download Album and Lead Sheets

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Holy Week Reflections

Holy Week Monday Reflection

More Faithful Than Spiritual

You know how people are always saying that they are “spiritual” but not religious? They mean Spiritual but not faithful, right? I mean Jesus always talked in very concrete terms about faith and he put that faith into action. I don’t believe he ever spoke in “spiritual” terms in any of the gospels. He did however worship in Spirit and in truth, but that’s an altogether different thing than our individualistic emphasis on spirituality. As we reflect this holy week on the path that led Jesus to the cross we should be reminded that Jesus wasn’t crucified for being overly “spiritual”. He was crucified because he posed a threat to the Empire, by revealing who God truly is. He faithfully called people to to devote themselves to the true ruler of the world. Overly “spiritual” people don’t cause much of a stir in this world. “Spiritual” is what Caesar wants us to be so we won’t cause problems. The Empire never likes it when things get stirred up and people start changing their allegiances. “Spiritual” people don’t usually speak truth to power. “Spiritual” people don’t confront Caesar and remind him who the real Lord is. Being “spiritual isn’t much good without being faithful. It takes a faithful person to be involved in the scandalous activities of Christ. “Spiritual” may be what the culture calls us to be,but the call of Christ is to be faithful.

Blessings,
Rick Lee James

 

Holy Week Tuesday Reflection

John 13:31-38

When he had gone out, Jesus said, ‘Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, “Where I am going, you cannot come.” I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’ Simon Peter said to him, ‘Lord, where are you going?’ Jesus answered, ‘Where I am going, you cannot follow me now; but you will follow afterwards.’ Peter said to him, ‘Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.’ Jesus answered, ‘Will you lay down your life for me? Very truly, I tell you, before the cock crows, you will have denied me three times.

Reflection

Peter had a problem that I think we can all relate to. He thought himself to be something that in the end he just wasn’t. Eventually, yes, he did lay down his life for Jesus, but at this moment he still had some illusions about who he was.

Can’t we all understand that? We post the best of ourselves to our Facebook walls while in our hearts we know we aren’t that clean and pristine. We want to project an image of ourselves that isn’t the whole picture. We may want to lay down our lives for Jesus, but when that rooster crows, how many times have we found ourselves denying him?

Jesus loved the real Peter . He didn’t love macho, fearless, action hero Peter because that Peter was an illusion. God doesn’t recogize our illusions. It is in our weaknesses that Christ’s power is made perfect in us, and yet we still try to be who we want to be rather than who we really are.

Jason Gray is one of the most thoughtful songwriters of our time. As I read this passage from the gospel this morning his lyrics came to mind. I’ll leave them with you to ponder. On this Holy Week will you have the courage to acknowledge the truth about who you really are so that God can create something more in you, something true that He can use?

“So take a good look in the mirror, can you tell me who you see,
The one who Jesus died for or the one you’d rather be?
Can you find it in your heart to show mercy to the one
The Father loved so much that he gave his only son?”

-Jason Gray “The Golden Boy and the Prodigal”

Consciousness Reflection

How am you really feeling? Lighthearted? Heavy-hearted? You may be very much at peace, happy to be here. Equally, you may be frustrated, worried or angry.

Prayer:
Lord, I acknowledge how I really am. It is the real me that You love.

 

Blessings,

Rick Lee James

 

Holy Wednesday Reflection

Holy Wednesday reminds us that no one is outside of the love of God. There wasn’t a lot of difference between Peter and Judas in their betrayal of Jesus. One faced his guilt with suicide and the other with repentance. Neither of them were outside of the love of Christ. Both were welcomed to the same table, both were offered the bread and wine, and both were loved in spite of who they were, right until the end.

On any given day I can be just as wrong as Peter and Judas in their betrayal of Jesus. Thank God for the hope we have in Christ that leads us back to his heart when we are overwhelmed by guilt. How wonderful that there is mercy for all who will receive it and that we don’t have to end up like Judas, ending our own lives in hopeless despair.

Over the last couple of years since I met Michael Card has been a very kind to me and has embodied what it means to serve rather than to be served. He is a brilliant writer and as I’ve been reflecting on this idea of The Lord extending his love to all, one of his songs called “The Beginning” has come to mind. This song which captures the idea of Gods grace which leads to us restoration not despair. I leave you with his lyrics with you today.

In the beginning was the beginning
And in it all began
All that they had was God and the garden
The woman and the man

Before creation learned to groan
The stars would dance and sing
Each moment was new, every feeling was fresh
For the creature king and queen

But deep in the heart of that beautiful garden
Forbidden truth was found
That they were deceived, disobeyed and were driven
From that holy ground

But beside the tree of disobedience
The tree of life did grow
The gift of its fruit and eternal beginning
But they would never know

The beginning will make all things new
New life belongs to Him
He hands us each new moment saying

My child begin again
My child begin again
You’re free to start again

This very moment is filled with His power
That we might start anew
To break us away from the past and the future
He does what He must do

And so the Alpha brings to us
This moment to commence
To live in the freedom of total forgiveness
With reckless confidence, with reckless confidence

The beginning will make all things new
New life belongs to Him
He hands us each new moment saying

My child, begin again
My child, begin again
You’re free to start again

The beginning will make all things new
New life belongs to him
He hands us each new moment, saying

My child, begin again
My child, begin again
You’re free to start again

Songwriters
Michael Card

Published by
BIRDWING MUSIC;MOLE END MUSIC

 

Blessings,

Rick Lee James

 

Maundy Thursday Reflection

John 13: 3-15
And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, ‘Lord, are you going to wash my feet?’ Jesus answered, ‘You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.’ Peter said to him, ‘You will never wash my feet.’ Jesus answered, ‘Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.’ Simon Peter said to him, ‘Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!’ Jesus said to him, ‘One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.’ For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, ‘Not all of you are clean.’
After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, ‘Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.

Imagine that you are one of the disciples in this scene?

What is it like when Jesus, your master and teacher, washes your feet?

What are you thinking as you watch him pour water in a basin and wraps a towel around himself, assuming the position of a servant?

What does it mean that Jesus is washing the dirt, animal feces, and just
general filth from the road off of your feet?

Would you allow him to serve you?

Would you try to stop him from doing this most humble act?

What does it mean that the King of all the Universe doesn’t want to Lord over you, but loves you enough to make you clean, becoming a servant?

Now that he has served you in this way, he instructs you to do the same for others?

Are you willing to serve others in the way that Jesus has served you?

The new mandate (Maundy) Jesus gave to his followers was that they love each other in this way. Love everyone this way. Then he again led by example, and loved to the point of death on a cross, offering not vengance, but forgiveness.

How do you notice yourself reacting as you pray with the Word of God?

 

Blessings,

Rick Lee James

 

Good Friday Reflection

Yesterday I asked if you would allow Jesus to wash your feet. Here’s an even bigger question, Would you allow Jesus to die for you? The disciples didn’t want it. Judas hung himself when he realized what he had done. Peter lashed out with a sword and cut off the ear of Malchus, a servant of the Jewish high priest who came to arrest Jesus. Christ commanded him to put away his sword and he healed Malchus’ ear. (Side Note to all believers, don’t be surprised if people won’t listen to your message about Jesus if you’ve cut off their ear. Violence and even biting words literally take away a person’s ability to listen.)

Pilate seems to have given Jesus every opportunity to get out of the crucifixion, believing he had the power to make a decision like that.

The religious leaders wanted someone else to do it so they would avoid ritual defilement. After all, it was Passover and they wouldn’t be able to partake of the meal if they had blood on their hands. (It’s curious that they saw no reason for plotting a death to keep them from the Passover meal, as if not actually doing the deed yourself exonerated you).

The truth is that no one took Jesus’ life from him, no one could stop him. He willingly laid down his life. Can you look at the Cross and allow Jesus die for you?

What does it mean that God would rather die himself than to take your life?

God is like Jesus. God has always been like Jesus. We didn’t always know this, but we know it now. Everything we think about God is wrong if it isn’t like Jesus. It turns out that God wasn’t wrathful at all. He was literally dying to show us love, forgiveness, and grace. No it wasn’t God that was full of wrath, it was us.

This is God, hanging on a cross, suffering, experiencing the worst that man can do. Deicide, the murder of God is man at his worst. “Father, forgive them”, is God at His best.

Here is a beautiful cover of Sandi Patti’s VIA DOLOROSA performred by by friend Andrew Greer and Ginny Owens. Let it lead you in reflection today.

 

 

Holy Saturday

The Light of the world is gone.

Lamentations 3:26

It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. (ESV)

 

“What is happening today? Today there is a great silence over the earth, a great silence, and stillness, a great silence because the King sleeps; the earth was in terror and was still, because God slept in the flesh and raised up those who were sleeping from the ages. God has died in the flesh, and the underworld has trembled.”

— from St. Thomas Aquinas’ homily on Holy Saturday

 

Easter Sunday

He is risen, He is Risen Indeed!

I recorded Easter Worship Experience 2014 at First Church of the Nazarene in Springfield Ohio on April 12th, 2014. In the prayer room at my church with no one else present, I played guitar and sang all the songs in one take with no overdubs. I added Pad Loops in post-production but other than that it’s all live. These raw tracks were recorded in a private worship time, with the hope that they will be used to help others worship. These songs, birthed out of a local congregational setting, are intended to guide you to worship the Risen Christ wherever you are in the Easter season and beyond, whether you’re in a church service, in your car, or a private time of prayer. These are not songs of lament, they are songs of celebration telling the story of the Risen Lord. The final track is a song of invitation intended for communion in a congregational setting but it’s also an invitation to enter into God’s Kingdom of grace and peace. May God bless you as you listen and worship along with these songs of resurrection.

Blessings, Rick Lee James

Lead sheets for all songs available at www.RickLeeJames.com/FreeSheetMusic

Songs Included on this EP

1.) Christ The Lord Is Risen Today – Written By Charles Wesley

2.) Advent Hymn (Watching, Waiting, Longing) – Written by Rick Lee James & Ted Rastatter

3.) Christ Has Died, Christ Is Risen – Written by Rick Lee James

4.) Hallelujah, Christ Is Lord (St. Patrick’s Prayer) – Written by Rick Lee James & Eddie Kirkland

5.) The Invitation (Communion Song) – Written by Rick Lee James & Andrew Greer

 

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Free Lead Sheets

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Worship Links Features Rick Lee James in their Noisetrade Worship Music Roundup.

I was really blessed to be featured on Worship Links Noisetrade Roundup this week in their feature on great new worship music being offered on Noise trade. Read all about it by clicking on the picture below. Thanks to Noisetrade.com and Worshiplinks.us for making this possble.

 

 

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Podcast #107: Easter Worship Experience

Voices In My Head Podcast #107 is a special Easter Edition featuring 5 song written and/or arranged by Rick Lee James.

Podcast 107

LISTEN HERE

 

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“Freely you received, freely give.” — Matthew 10:8

Get a free Easter album with Sheet music from Rick Lee James on Noisetrade

Easter Worship Exp 2014 Easter Worship Experience 2014 with Rick Lee James on Noisetrade.com

noisetrade

Click Here To Download Album and Lead Sheets

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Also, as a bonus for Holy Week, download Rick Lee James’s book, Out of the Depths on Noisetrade Books. image2.jpg noisetradebooks

Get Rick Lee James' Email Updates

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@RickLeeJames

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Free Easter Album, Sheet Music, and Book from Rick Lee James

amazon-instant-video-header.jpg

“Freely you received, freely give.” — Matthew 10:8

Get a free Easter album with Sheet music from Rick Lee James on Noisetrade

Easter Worship Exp 2014 Easter Worship Experience 2014 with Rick Lee James on Noisetrade.com

noisetrade

Click Here To Download Album and Lead Sheets

image

Also, as a bonus for Holy Week, download Rick Lee James’s book, Out of the Depths on Noisetrade Books. image2.jpg noisetradebooks

Get Rick Lee James' Email Updates

Get Rick Lee James’ Email Updates

 

@RickLeeJames

@RickLeeJames

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Rick Lee James Easter Experience 2014

This is a medley of songs I’ve written or arranged for Easter Sunday. If it is any help to any worship leaders who may read this blog, all lead sheets are printable for no charge at www.RickLeeJames.com/freesheetmusic

Blessings,
Rick Lee James

Easter Worship Exp 2014

Recorded

Click To Download From Noisetrade

Click To Download From Noisetrade

Easter Worship Experience 2014

I recorded Easter Worship Experience 2014 at First Church of the Nazarene in Springfield Ohio on April 12th, 2014. In the prayer room at my church with no one else present, I played guitar and sang all the songs in one take with no overdubs. I added Pad Loops in post-production but other than that it’s all live. These raw tracks were recorded in a private worship time, with the hope that they will be used to help others worship. These songs, birthed out of a local congregational setting, are intended to guide you to worship the Risen Christ wherever you are in the Easter season and beyond, whether you’re in a church service, in your car, or a private time of prayer. These are not songs of lament, they are songs of celebration telling the story of the Risen Lord. The final track is a song of invitation intended for communion in a congregational setting but it’s also an invitation to enter into God’s Kingdom of grace and peace. May God bless you as you listen and worship along with these songs of resurrection.

Blessings, Rick Lee James

Lead sheets for all songs available at www.RickLeeJames.com/FreeSheetMusic

Songs Included on this EP

1.) Christ The Lord Is Risen Today – Written By Charles Wesley

2.) Advent Hymn (Watching, Waiting, Longing) – Written by Rick Lee James & Ted Rastatter

3.) Christ Has Died, Christ Is Risen – Written by Rick Lee James

4.) Hallelujah, Christ Is Lord (St. Patrick’s Prayer) – Written by Rick Lee James & Eddie Kirkland

5.) The Invitation (Communion Song) – Written by Rick Lee James & Andrew Greer

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