Prayer Day 42

Available on Amazon.com

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Oh dear Lord,

Thank you for answering prayer.

Thank you for visions that bring comfort; for healings that relieve pain; and for your presence that instills peace in our lives.

Grow my faith.

In the power of your Holy Spirit, shape me in the image of your son.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Prayer Day 42

Also see:

Believer’s Prayer

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Prayer Day 35

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By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Almighty Father. King of kings. Lord of lords.

Thank you for your ongoing presence in our lives. Redeem our relationships; guarantee our fidelity; mentor our leadership.

In the power of your Holy Spirit, bless our families, our churches, and our work places.

In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.

Prayer Day 35

Also see:

Believer’s Prayer

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Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net

Purchase Book: http://www.T2Pneuma.com

 

 

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Prayer Day 25

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By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Father, beloved Son, Holy Spirit.

We praise you for the hope of the resurrection, the inspiration of heaven, and the gift of your love in both.

For we have seen our names carved in the palms of your hands (John 20:27) and are ashamed.

Forgive our sin.

Bless us with your presence both day and night.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Prayer Day 25

Also see:

Believer’s Prayer

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Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net

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Prayer Day 21

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By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Almighty God, beloved Son, Holy Spirit.

Thank you for allowing us to enter into your presence to pray and for being present in our daily lives.

Illuminate our minds; consecrate our hearts.

Help us to be fully present with each other and with you in prayer.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Prayer Day 21

Also see:

Believer’s Prayer

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Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net

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VanDuivendyk: Understanding Grief

Gift_of_Grief_review_07242014Tim P. VanDuivendyk [1]. 2006. The Unwanted Gift of Grief:  A Ministry Approach.  New York:  Haworth Press Inc.

Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra

Do you give grieving people permission to grieve?  Or do you try to sweep grief under the rug?

Introduction

In his book, The Unwanted Gift of Grief, chaplain Tim P. VanDuivendyk advises us to walk with people in their grief and help them complete the process of grief work (12).  He observes:

So many well-meaning friends and loved ones may try to cheer us up rather than just be with us in our sadness. Rather than help us grieve through and talk out our pain, they may attempt to talk us out of pain.  Rather than be sojourners with us in the wilderness, they may attempt to find us a shortcut…This book is not designed to take you out of your pain but to invite you into and through your pain to transformation and new life (3).

In this context, a sojourner is:  one who is willing to support, listen, and compassionately walk with another through their wilderness of grief (5).  VanDuivendyk further observes:

[This] wilderness is not just a physical place but also a spiritual and emotional place.  In the wilderness of grief we may not know which direction to take.  Feelings of fear may paralyze us.  We may not be able to see through the thick forest to tomorrow (9).

Healing with Scabs

VanDuivendyk characterizes grief almost like a scab on a wound.  He writes:

Grief fills up the vacuum of empty space left by our deceased loved one until we can adjust to and accept the reality that the person is no longer with us (12).

Grief is a gift because it helps us transform towards differentiating ourselves from our loved one (16).  Because they have passed, we must learn to live in their absence (the process of differentiation).  A scab protects us while the skin underneath grows to close up the wound.

VanDuivendyk sees 3 passageways through grief, depending on whether we prefer thinking, feeling, or acting (24-26).  Think people follow a cognitive pathway; feel people track emotions but may not be able to reason through what is going on; act people stay busy doing tasks during grief. Each pathway offers strengths and weaknesses. An act person, for example, may develop into a workaholic in response to grief (29) while a think person may worry obsessively and a feel person may slip into depression (28-29). VanDuivendyk suggests that we should learn to employ and work with each approach as a way to balance out (27).

Organization

VanDuivendyk’s The Unwanted Gift of Grief is written in 17 chapters preceded by a forward, acknowledgments, and an introduction and followed by notes, suggested readings, and an index.  These chapters are:

  1. Grief as Gratitude, Grief as a Gift;
  2. Everyone Grieves Differently;
  3. Factors that affect the Wilderness of Grief;
  4. Unbelievable Darkness;
  5. Frustration and Anger Amid “Why?”
  6. Praying for a Miracle;
  7. Wrestling with Sadness and Depression;
  8. Healing: Experiencing the Light Again;
  9. And Yet…We Never Forget!
  10. Being a Sojourner;
  11. Sojourning with Those in Unbelievable Darkness;
  12. Sojourning with Those Frustrated and Angry Amid “Why?”
  13. Sojourning with Those Praying for a Miracle;
  14. Sojourning with Those Wrestling with Sadness and Depression;
  15. Sojourning with Those in Healing and Light;
  16. Marriage : Tough Enough without Grief;
  17. Ways of Making it Through the Wilderness of Grief (vii-ix).

Clearly, VanDuivendyk writes using a topical approach.

In my own work as a chaplain intern, I found that the majority of patients that I visited with suffered from grief at some level.  For some it was active and obvious; for others it was repressed and a source of physical complication.  Helping people become more aware of their grief was one of the ways to facilitate their journey with it.

Assessment

More than anything, VanDuivendyk convinced me of the need to give people permission to grieve, particularly at funerals.  That one insight was worth the ticket of admission.  After all, ours is a religion that began in a graveyard, not a church. We grieve and can give permission to grieve because with the resurrection of Jesus Christ we know the graveyard is not the end of the story.  The end of the story is not sadness, but joy—in Christ.

Footnotes

[1] http://Tim.VanDuivendyk.com; www.MemorialHermann.org/services-specialties/clinical-pastoral-education-staff

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Card Explores Lament

Card_review_20200325Michael Card.  2005.  A Sacred Sorrow: Reaching Out to God in the Lost Language of Lament.  [Also:  Experience Guide].  Colorado Springs:  NavPress.

Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra

Grief is a postmodern embarrassment.  American society has abandoned the idea of Sabbath rest; even the pre-eminent American holiday, Thanksgiving, is being pushed aside to make more room for holiday shopping.  As the pace of life keeps accelerating, the rhythm of life allows little room for honest reflection; honest emotions.  Grief often comes as a kind of alien invasion.

In this context, Christian musician, Michael Card, observed after 9/11—we, in the American church, had no songs to sing in response to the horrific attack (7).  Songs to sing?  When Jerusalem was burned to the ground by the Babylonians, the Prophet Jeremiah wrote the Book of Lamentation.  Lamentation is a song of grief.

Introduction

In his book, A Sacred Sorrow, Card set out to rediscover the lost art of lamentation.  He studies lamentation in the OT and NT focusing on the characters of Job, David, Jeremiah, and Jesus.  A key verse in this study is found in Exodus 7:16 [Moses said to Pharaoh] The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has sent me to say to you: Let my people go, so that they may worship me in the desert. The desert in this context is interpreted literally but also figuratively. It is often in the desert that we meet and learn to depend on God.

Biblical Walk

In this sense, grief is a walk in the desert that can lead us to God.  In our grief we almost invariable get angry at ourselves and at God.  Lament helps us turn from self-pity to access our anger and express our grief—the only healthy response to death.  Lashing out at God means we finally take him seriously.  In turn, God honors our anger.  Many of the Psalms are laments which explicitly model both the expression of rage and the subsequent turning to God.  Here lies the path of our salvation:

Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you. Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life. Fear not, for I am with you (Isaiah 43:1-5 ESV).

Card cites this passage from Isaiah and makes the important point that God promises to be with us. He does not promise to give us a care-free life or life without pain—grief exposes the carefree life promised by the postmodern lifestyle as a lie.  When we pray, it is accordingly important to ask for and treasure God’s presence. God’s gifts follow his presence.

Assessment

A Sacred Sorrow by Michael Card deepened my conscious relationship with God.  In addition to A Sacred Sorrow, Card also has an A Sacred Sorrow: Experience Guide which is usefully studied in addition to this book. Between the two, the experience guide is more accessible.  Both are worth reading and studying either alone or with a small group.

Card Explores Lament

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Prayer for Shelter

Life_in_Tension_revision_front_20200101By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Almighty Father,

I praise you for your enduring presence and manifest glory all around. Your glory wakes me in the morning; its sustains my days; and it protects me during the night.

Empty me of all despair and bitterness that deflate my life. Help me to confess my weaknesses, my brokenness, and my sin to make room for your glory, your mercy, and your love.

Heal me with your presence when only your presence will do. Bind up my wounds; give me hope; and guide me in your ways that I might see the new day that you have prepared for me.

In the power of your Holy Spirit and in Jesus’ precious name, Amen.

Prayer for Shelter

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Believer’s Prayer

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Prayer for Presence

Life_in_Tension_revision_front_20200101By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Compassionate Father,

Be especially near me this morning—blot out my guilt; hide my shame; cover up my sin.

Though I am unworthy, share an intimate moment with me. Remind me of better times.

Grant me a new day in the sunshine of your mercy—a day when I could lose myself in your love and extend your love with abandon to those around me.

Open a bridge over the gaps that separate us—time and holiness and power—that I might spend more time with those around me, might share in your holy affections, might overcome my own weaknesses and bitterness, and turn to you, instead of into my pain, that I may experience godly, redemptive grief.

Through the power of your Holy Spirit and in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Prayer for Presence

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Believer’s Prayer

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Prayer of Presence

PA Church
Photo by Stephen W. Hiemstra

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Almighty father,

You created us in your image and ushered us into your presence honoring us more than we could ever honor you. Teach us to honor you more every day!

Forgive our unwillingness to usher others into your presence and to honor them as you have honored us. Teach us to honor those around us more every day!

Thank you for the presence of your church in our lives. May it be a light to the world and inspire us in participating in this work. Teach us to love the light and spread it more every day!

In the power of your Holy Spirit, teach us to be a non-anxious presence in our families, church, and work that your name would be praised. May we learn the names of the silent people in our lives and cherish them as friends.

Bless us that we might bless those around us. In Jesus precious name, Amen.

Prayer of Presence

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Decision Prayer

Route 28, Manassas, Virginia
Route 28, Manassas, Virgina

by Stephen W. Hiemstra

Marvelous Counselor,

I come to you daily on my knees

creator of the universe

for who is like you–

you alone are worthy of all honor and praise.

Draw me into your presence,

though I am unworthy and sin beyond measure,

in the name of Jesus Christ,

who lived a sinless life and yet died on the cross

that we might be saved.

Thank you for another day

for health and family and blessings that I do not deserve,

but cherish greatly.

Grant me the blessing of your wisdom and the strength to act on it,

help me to travel your road when other roads beckon,

help me to share your blessings with others–even when I do not feel like it.

In the power of your Holy Spirit,

grant me grace and peace in the midst of anger and chaos,

In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.

Decision Prayer

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