Voices In My Head Podcast Episode #143: Morning Daily Prayer Rule

I invite you to pray along with me this week on this special episode of The Voices My Head Podcast as I lead us through a Morning Daily Prayer Rite of the Orthodox Church. Click the picture below to follow along with the prayer.

Beginning Daily Prayer Rule

Praying, Cursing, And Heading For Lent

Sometimes I really wish people wouldn’t read their Bibles. That sounds blasphemous I know, but it’s true. The Bible contains all that is essential for life and salvation, it tells us repeatedly that God is love, it gives us the narrative of our faith story, and yet there is no other book I can think of that causes more damage than the Bible. For instance, what are we to do with passages like these from the book of Psalms?

15 Let death take my enemies by surprise; let them go down alive to the realm of the dead, for evil finds lodging among them. (Psalm 55:15)

Break the teeth in their mouths, O God; (Psalm 58:6)

28 May they be blotted out of the book of life and not be listed with the righteous. (Psalm 69:28)

May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow. (Psalm 109:9)

Happy is the one who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks. (Psalm 137:9)

The Psalms have a unique place in the Bible in that they are prayers and songs prayed to God. Where other parts of the Bible are filled with messages from God to us, the Psalms are our prayers and songs of praise to Him. The Psalms were not only the hymnbook of ancient Israel, they were the main prayer book and songbook of Jesus and his disciples, the early church, and most of Christendom until fairly recently in church history. The Psalms have been teaching believers how to pray and praise God for literally thousands of years.

About a year ago I released a book called, Out of the Depths: A Songwriter’s Journey Through the Psalms. In it I told readers that I just wasn’t sure what to do with certain scriptures like the imprecatory (cursing) Psalms, quoted above. I’ve gone as far as wondering if there are some parts of the Bible that Jesus would forbid us to pray. We would never see Jesus joyfully dashing infants on rocks and I don’t believe for a second that he would ever condone such unspeakable acts. Yet, here in the prayer book that we know Jesus used, we have unconscionable prayers like these.

How can the Christ who told his followers to love their enemies and pray for those who persecute them have anything to do with cursing prayers like the imprecatory Psalms? Does Jesus really want us to pray for the damnation of others, to pray that innocent women and children be widowed and orphaned, wandering desperately in the street with no help to be found? How does God answer our prayers of cursing upon others? I believe He answers them with the cross.

All the hateful things that we prayed about our enemies, Jesus took upon himself on the cross. When mankind prayed for God to humiliate, starve, and destroy the enemy, God answered those prayers by coming to earth as Jesus to be humiliated, starved, and destroyed in their place. When our weapons were aimed at our enemies, Jesus turned our weapons and aimed them at himself. Jesus died from the shots we fired. Jesus was killed in answer to our prayers against others. Jesus didn’t only die for our sins, Jesus died for the sins of the enemy.

Jesus on the cross is God’s response to the cursing prayers we pray. All the wrath that mankind could muster was aimed at Jesus on the cross. Jesus did not bear the wrath of God on Calvary, Jesus was God on the cross bearing the wrath of man. Jesus died at the hands of devout, Bible believing, religious people. When Jesus taught us to love our enemies, he also showed us how to do it. To love an enemy, you might have to step in front of a bullet for them. When we rage against others, Jesus steps in to bear that rage because no one else has shoulders big enough to bear it.

All that being said, the imprecatory Psalms ,and many unsavory passages like them, are still in our Bible and they aren’t going anywhere. What should we do with these passages as followers of Jesus?

When traumatic events happen in our lives, we often suffer from what is diagnosed at Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Veteran’s Affairs requires soldiers who are victims of PTSD to write a stressor statement describing the stressful experience they had that led them to developing the disorder. This statement consists of three parts:

  1. Life before military service
  2. Life during military service (including traumatic event(s)
  3. Life after traumatic event(s)

Often, after traumatic life events, victims are filled with rage. They have trouble being around people and their temper gets the best of them. Victims often have trouble sustaining employment due to their condition, many times costing them their marriages, their homes and even their sanity. It is important that PTSD victims find a healthy outlet for their afflictions and that often comes in the form of therapeutic letter writing, chronicling their anger, grief, and need.

I believe that the imprecatory Psalms serve a similar function for us in our liturgy. Praying curses down on our enemies may not seem like a holy endeavor until we realize that we are praying them in all honesty to a God big enough to bear them upon Himself. When we pray for our enemies to be cursed it is an honest expression of what we feel, but God’s answer to us in Jesus will always be, “no”.

When God answers prayers of cursing, He does so by bearing the curse upon Himself.

Even so, we should still find the freedom to be completely honest with God in our prayers. Our God prefers an honest curse to a dishonest blessing. May God help us to see that Jesus is to answer to our prayers, even our prayers of cursing. He not only tells us how to love our enemies, He shows us. When we pray for our enemies to suffer and die, Jesus suffers and dies for them.

As we enter into this Lenten season, may God grant us courage to walk the road to the cross with Him, helping us learn what it means to truly be Christian. We will encounter scripture that makes us uneasy along the way so may Jesus be the living Word for us, showing us where we’ve gotten it wrong. When the crowd cries crucify, may God help us have the honesty to hear our own voices in the crowd.

A Prayer for Lent O gracious Master, infuse in our hearts the spotless light of Your Divine Wisdom and open the eyes of our mind that we may understand the teachings of Your Gospel. Instill in us also the fear of Your blessed commandments, so that having curbed all carnal desires, we may lead a spiritual life, both thinking and doing everything to please You. For You, O Christ, our God, are the enlightenment of our souls and bodies; and to You we render glory, together with Your eternal Father, and with Your all holy, life-creating Spirit, now and ever, and forever. Out of the depths Postcard

How Do I Pray? The Daily Examen and The Way of Ignatian Prayer

How Do I Pray?
How Do I Pray?

More than 400 years ago Saint Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuits (literally meaning the society of Jesus), developed a way of praying for the purpose of helping people to find God in all things. This way of praying intentionally looks for what God is doing right now. As Christians we believe that the risen Christ is alive and active, working in His creation in every moment, drawing everything near to Himself as He Himself draws near. A wonderful way to pray is by looking for God’s presence in our lives, both individually and communally. Saint Ignatius Loyola encouraged prayer-filled mindfulness by prayerfully developing a technique called the Daily Examen. The Examen is a prayerful reflection on the day’s events for the purpose of detecting God’s presence and discerning His direction for our lives. The following is my best attempt to adapt St. Ignatius’s prayer for my own use. This is one way I am learning to pray as I follow Ignatius’ 5 steps and since none of us pray in a vacuum, I thought others might find it helpful as well. These certainly aren’t ideas that are original to me, they are simply my attempt to make this type of praying my own. I always pray better with a guide.

1. Become aware of God’s presence. 

Look back on the events of the day so far. Be aware that you are in the presence of the Father, revealed to us in Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit. Don’t ask anything yet, just simply be aware of the Presence of God, who is with you in this very moment.

2. Review the day with gratitude. 

As you review your day, be mindful both of the things that have brought you joy as well as things that have been obstacles.  Take note of the delights as well as the struggles of the day. Ponder the work that you accomplished and the people with whom you interacted. What did you recieve from these people and things? What did you give to them? Pay atttention to both the small things and the large things for God is in the details.  What did you eat? How did you feel? Were you cold or hot? Jesus presence is both the center of our joy as well as our stumbling block at times. Cultivate gratitude for both, that God would care enough to be present in every moment, revealing Himself in the joy and struggle, knowing that His nearness is always for our good.

3. Pay attention to your emotions. 

Strive to detect the presence of the Spirit of God in the movements of our emotions. Reflect on the feelings you experienced during the day. In what did you find affirmation? What did you find challenging? What caused you Boredom? Exhilaration? Resentment? Compassion? Anger? Confidence? Have I been kind to others? Have I been open to growth? What is God saying through these feelings?

God might show you some ways that you have fallen short. Make note of these sins and faults but also look deeper to what these things might mean. Does your frustration possibly mean that you need to consider new directions in some area of  your life and work? Are there people who come to mind that you may need to reach out to in some way? Are there places and habits that you need to avoid? Do your emotions indicate that a change of course is needed? God’s paths will lead to wholeness so it’s helpful to examine if you are recieving wholeness or brokenness from your present path?

4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it.

Ask the God to direct you to something during the day that is of particular importance to Him. It might involve positive and/or  negative feelings. It may be a significant encounter with another person or people. It might be a vivid moment of peace or fulfillment. It might be something that seems insignificant at first. Look at it. Pray about it. Allow prayer to arise spontaneously from your heart. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in prayers of intercession, praise, repentance, or gratitude.

5. Look toward tomorrow. 

Ask God for light to face the challenges of tomorrow. Pay attention to the feelings that surface as you survey what’s lies ahead. What are you experiencing about the future? Doubt? Cheer? Worry? Joyful anticipation? Allow these feelings be transformed into prayer. Seek God’s guidance. Ask him for help and understanding. Ask God to show you how to be the Christlike person that he wants you to be.

Talk to Jesus like a friend. End the Daily Examen in a conversation with Jesus. Ask Him to forgive for your sins. Ask for His protection and help. Ask for His wisdom in the questions you have and the problems you are facing. Pray in the spirit of gratitude but also in complete honesty. There is nothing you can say to Him that will make Him stop loving You. Be real with God even when it isn’t pretty. God doesn’t know the person you pretend to be because that person doesn’t exist. Be who you are, who God made you to be. Every life, including yours, is a gift. If you examine your life carefully and prayerfully, you will see that it is filled with gifts from God.

End the Daily Examen with the prayer Jesus taught his disciples

Our Father, Who art in heaven, Holy is Your Name;

Your Kingdom come,Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us;

and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For Your’s is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever, Amen.

Hearing > Healing

I would say that at least 90% of the prayer requests I hear from church people have to do with sickness and health. The really interesting thing about that is Jesus very rarely healed people. When Jesus did heal people it was a sign of something else, an illustration to a point that he was trying to make. Healings were living parables pointing to God, not the ancient equivalent of the latest wonder drug.

No, Jesus never promised us health. In fact he promised us just the opposite of health. What Jesus offered to his disciples was a cross, a Roman instrument of torture and death. If Jesus had our health as his primary goal then I’m sure he would’ve done a lot more healing, but as it has always been, there’s 100% chance of death for each one of us.

The Gospels never call the miracles of Jesus miracles, they call them signs. To what signs do you think Jesus was pointing us? He certainly wasn’t pointing us to the miracles themselves, as Jesus wanted disciples, not spectators at a magic show. With that being said, if our health was not Jesus main priority, then why does that seem to be all we ever pray about? What do you think Jesus would have us pray about? What are the signs to which his miracles are pointing? The answer is not far from you so think about it, better yet, pray about it.

Rick Lee James



About Rick:

Rick Lee James is a professional singer and songwriter, a speaker, author worship leader and Podcast host who has worked with the likes of Jason Gray, Andrew Peterson, Sara Groves, Michael Card, Brian Zahnd, Tripp York, Brett Mccracken, Ian Morgan Cron, Paul Baloche and many more. In 2013 Rick released his first Live album of original songs called, Basement Psalms Live. In 2014 Rick published critically applauded a companion book to Basement Psalms Live called, Out of the Depths: A Songwriter’s Journey Through The Psalms. Rick has also been a contributing writer for Worship Leader Magazine, an adjunct teacher at Trevecca Nazarene University and has had a number of songs published by Lifeway Worship, including, I Lift Up My Eyes and Advent Hymn. For more information about Rick’s ministry visit his web site at http://www.RickLeeJames.com

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


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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Episode # 76: Chaplain Rich Young – Prayer

Episode #76: Chaplain Rich Young

Rich Young Podcast

Listen Here: 

My guest today is Chaplain Rich Young. Rich Young, originally from Ellwood City, Pennsylvania, enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1970 immediately after high school. He became a Christian while in the Marines and felt God leading him into the ministry. College and seminary followed his discharge as a Sergeant in 1974. Rich entered the Army as a Chaplain in 1981, retiring as a Colonel in 2006. Rich serves as the Executive Director of the International Association of Evangelical Chaplains. He and Sandy have been married thirty-nine years, are Ambassadors for the Alliance Defending Freedom, have two children and two grandchildren, and live in Helotes, Texas. On this week’s episode Rich Young talks to us about the importance of prayer.

Voices In My Head is a Podcast dedicated to covering things like comics, movies, books, music and various other things that get stuck in the head of pop culture, but with a Theological lens. Listen to it on Podbean.comStitcherThe Rick Lee James Mobile AppiTunesReverbnation.com, and FacebookRick Lee James Official Web Site is www.RickLeeJames.com. To leave a voice message comment for Voices In My Head call (937) 505-0162. Get Rick’s music on iTunes and at CDBaby.com. Email can be sent to RLJames29@yahoo.com. You can also watch Rick Lee James music videos on YouTube.

Please leave a review on iTunes and let us know what you thought of today’s episode.

Like us at Voices In My Head (The Rick Lee James Podcast) Facebook page to join the online community and answer the question of the week.

You can also answer the question of the week at RickLeeJames.com

Podcast #48_Rick Lee James on Prayer_Part 3 of 4

Listen Here:

On November 9th, 10th, and 11th Rick Lee James spoke a series of four messages on prayer at a retreat in Northwestern Ohio. The Voices In My Head Podcast will be featuring these talks in four parts, just as they were presented. Hopefully we will begin to listen together for the voice in our head that is God. Comments and questions are welcomed by Rick at RLJames29@yahoo.com.

Voices In My Head is a Podcast dedicated to covering things like comics, movies, books, music and various other things that get stuck in the head of pop culture, but with a Theological lens. Listen to it on Podbean.comStitcherThe Rick Lee James Mobile AppiTunesReverbnation.com, and FacebookRick Lee James Official Web Site is www.RickLeeJames.com. To leave a voice message comment for Voices In My Head call (937) 505-0162. Get Rick’s music on iTunes and at CDBaby.com. Email can be sent to RLJames29@yahoo.com. You can also watch Rick Lee James music videos on YouTube.

Please leave a review on iTunes and let us know what you thought of today’s episode.

Like us at Voices In My Head (The Rick Lee James Podcast) Facebook page to join the online community and answer the question of the week.

You can also answer the question of the week at www.RickLeeJames.com