Pray

imageOne aspect of General conference this year was prayer beads.

These were simple beads that were made by individuals from across United States. Each set was made while praying over it and asking God to take it to the person that would be most blessed.

At Westside one of our members made 40 sets of these prayer beads.  She had a few extra sets and gave those to me and asked me to give them away. I prayed about who should receive them.

One woman told me those beads became a huge gift.  She told me, “My prayer life is changed. I prayed more focused than before.  I pray now everyday while driving to work.  Not only this but I’ve seen greater answers to prayer.” Joy exuded from her countenance!

Having a tool, something tangible to hold onto as you pray can keep you focused. For me, as I prayed for plenary sessions using the beads it kept prayer flowing through me as I touched one bead after another praying for specific people and praying the Lord’s Prayer.  Prayer became more connected, joyful.

All delegates to General Conferencd received a set of these beads. At points during worship they were invited to hold onto their set and pray.

Those that were working security at the convention center knew that people are receiving these. At one point I watched his security officer walk over to the prayer table outside the prayer room to ask to purchase a set of beads.

As I watched her do this I wondered what was going on in her life that motivated the purchase.

When I asked she told me that just moments before she had received a text from Nigeria from her husband’s boss saying that her husband had collapsed on the job and been rushed to the hospital. So far she had no more news on what was wrong.

So, desiring to pray, not knowing how to do so, she’d purchased the beads. We prayed together. Then, I gave her some simple ways to pray with the beads.

Central to life, even as essential as breathing is prayer. A good reminder today.

About Camino Way 2016 Shimer

On August 22, 1981 I married this wonderful woman, Karen, who has consistently blessed and changed my life and days. We are still in love, all the more with the years. We have four daughters, two sons by marriage, and three delightful, wonderful grandchildren. So, that makes me a husband, father, and grandfather all in those sentences. But mostly just a guy who loves my family. Today Karen and I planted beautiful plants in numerous pots. She had come home with the plants and that experience reminded me how much I enjoy simple things and simple pleasures -- like digging in dirt to plant a flower, like sunlight through glass on a spring day, like clean windows -- just washed ours today -- like a melody that won't escape from my heart. I've been a local church pastor for 30 years as of this June, a number that staggers me for I feel about that age on the inside, but clearly that's not the case. Back in 1988 I graduated from Asbury Theological Seminary with an Mdiv-- a time of schooling that has been a foundation for years of ministry. But it is mostly in the building upon that foundation, that has most changed my life. I love people, love seeing Jesus work in people's lives. One of my favorite joys is to pray with someone through some horrible place of memory and see Jesus walk right into their memory world, and turn on the lights in a way that sets their soul free and brings healing. There's nothing like this privilege and I have been there to watch it happen more times than I can count. Between 4 and 7 the associate pastor of my family's congregation sexually abused me, first grooming me, then repeatedly violating my young self. This marked my life. It changed my bearings. It ripped at my faith. It wounded my image of what it meant to be a little boy, and later a man. It has been a point from which I have been in the process of healing for many years now. I'm a survivor, but more than that, I am one who lives beyond what was done. For in the middle of all that stuff, Jesus was calling me, speaking to me, bidding me to follow him to bring change to people's lives within the realm of the very office that was used to harm me. Only Jesus can make light from darkness, hope from despair, and healing from brokenness. I love Jesus. He really is alive, no matter what others may believe. And his life, his presence, his words into my world, his healing power have continued to be the foundation point of what it means to experience life to the fullest. I love writing. I don't really know why on that score for really writing has never been a central tool in my world, nor has it come easily. But I love seeing how words released heal. And I love the way words can connect me to other people's worlds. So, that's why I started blogging. It began because I was planning to blog on a weekly basis when I went to walk the Camino de Santiago last fall. And in order to be able to blog while walking, I knew I had to begin to practice blogging before I was in another country. A friend told me that. Friends are good to help us find ways to live more authentically into our daily lives! So, I started. But what I have discovered is there is something powerful about sharing the story of life with others. So, I have continued. And I love the connections being built through those words. In 2011 I experienced my first seminar in Simply the Story, a bible story telling method that involves those listening in discussion and I decided then -- "this is what I plan to do when I retire." But really-- "why wait until then?" -- so I use this method while I continue pastoring. It sets people free and allows the Word to take root in ways that preaching never has. So again and again I am practicing asking questions and that is good practice for me, because I am frequently better at "telling" than "asking." This has been such a freeing gift. I love training others in this skill. So, a storyteller would certainly be true of me too. Years ago I discovered my mission in life is "the joyful transformation of people's lives through the person of Jesus Christ." And that continues to be where I find my home base, in joy. Where there is joy, I find, there is Jesus, and there is the possibility of transformation. Of course Jesus is in places where there is no joy as well, and once He is there, the place kind of changes because of Him. I love that.
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