Prayer when feeling spiritually dry

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Copyright by Bob Rogers.

Lord, I am in a spiritual desert. My soul is dry. I thirst for You. How I need Jesus, the spring of living water. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit. Pour Your living word into me.  I desire to stand under Your loving presence, as a man stands under a waterfall, mouth open, drinking it in, letting it soak my heart and spirit. Then may I splash Your Spirit all around, that I may refresh those whom I meet this day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Life lessons from hospital patients

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Copyright by Bob Rogers.

In my hospital ministry, I often ask patients what lessons they have learned. Here are a few of the wise words that I have heard, with limited details about the patients to protect their identity:

Elderly man with COVID-19. “They almost lost me, but the Lord still has a plan for me.” He was discharged a few days later.

Elderly man with terminal cancer diagnosis: “Be ready to meet God.”

Elderly woman, retired educator, with congestive heart failure: “Do the right thing, treat people right; let be and let God.”

Elderly woman with kidney failure: “Live one day at a time.”

Elderly man in therapy, unable to move legs: “I don’t need money; I just need friends, and people to pray for me.”

Elderly female with multiple medical problems: “Accept what you get.”

Recently retired female pt who may need heart by-pass. “When I was little and there was a storm, mama put us children in a room together and said, ‘When God is doing His work, we be quiet.’” The patient explained that this became a motto for coping with trials: “When God is doing His work, we be quiet.”

Middle-aged female pt who nearly died in the ICU, slowly recovered and went to a room. “Just because life is hard, don’t give up.”

Younger middle-aged female pt who had a seizure and wrecked her car, and went through months of surgeries for broken bones. “I choose joy.”

Recently retired female pt who was told two months ago that she has breast cancer. “Don’t feel sorry for me. God’s got this. I’m not taking God down off His pedestal. What God can’t do, there ain’t no doing.”

Teenage male pt who had surgery for torn ligaments from football practice. “Everything happens for a reason.”

Middle-aged female pt who had a blood clot in the brain. “You can get glad or mad in the same pair of breeches.”

Middle-aged female pt who was in the hospital for a long time, recovering from COVID-19. “Learn to lean on God.”

Younger middle-aged female pt who spent over a month in rehab after spine surgery. “Don’t sweat the petty stuff. Prayer gets you through.”

Senior adult female who had a stroke. “The same God who did miracles for people in the Bible is getting me through this.”

Elderly man with leukemia, going home on hospice. “Money doesn’t mean anything when you leave this earth, and I have some money. The only thing that matters is that you know Jesus.”

How to represent the gospel in the Christmas tree tradition

Copyright by Bob Rogers.

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The Christmas tree tradition originated in Germany, apparently from several traditions, some pagan, some Christian. Some German towns brought an evergreen tree to the town square on Christmas Eve, set it on fire, and danced around it. Later these towns put lighted candles on Christmas trees. Other Germans remembered Adam and Eve’s fall into sin by hanging apples on an evergreen, and then hanging wafers for the bread of Christ in the Lord’s Supper, and candles on the tree for Jesus as the light of the world. As the feast of Adam and Eve was on December 24, this also became associated with Christmas. These traditions merged into the Christmas tree as we know it today.

A tree is mentioned by the prophet Isaiah when foretelling the coming of the Christ. Jesus, our Messiah, is prophesied in Isaiah 11:1 as the descendant of Jesse, father of King David: “Then a shoot will grow from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit.” This “tree” also died on a tree for us: “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that, having died to sins, we might live for righteousness; you have been healed by His wounds.” (1 Peter 2:24). That tree was the cross, where Jesus took our sins. So today, we can let the Christmas tree represent the gospel by putting Christian symbols on the tree, such as an angel or star on top, a manger scene underneath. Some Christians put a nail with a purple ribbon on the tree, reminding us that Jesus, the king of kings, was nailed to the tree of Calvary for us.

Two prayers for Thanksgiving

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Copyright by Bob Rogers.

Reflection on how to give thanks

Lord, how can I thank You enough for all You have done for me? Should I offer a thanksgiving offering like the ancient Israelites in their temple? Should I offer a song of thanks, or tell others of your wonderful works? Yes, Lord, I will do all of these things. Because of all that You have done for me, I will bring an offering of my time and money to You in church. I will offer You praise with my voice in song. I will give a testimony of Your goodness to me.

Prayer testifying to God’s goodness

O, give thanks to the Lord! He has saved me from sin and sickness. He has heard my prayers and answered me. He has given me peace in trials, and hope to overcome despair. He has filled my heart with joy through a loving family, and an encouraging church. I have seen Him change lives; I have seen Him rescue people who seemed beyond hope. He has opened my eyes to His truth through the Bible, His word. Let everybody join me in thanksgiving; let us give thanks to the Lord!

Guest blog: Prayer in anger and pain

Copyright by Vance Moore. (The following prayer is shared with permission from Vance Moore, staff chaplain and my co-worker at the same hospital. He wrote this prayer after the tragic attack in Waukesha, Wisconsin.)

Our Father,

       This world’s problems are so complicated that I cannot comprehend the hate and sickness that permeates society today. No matter how much I try to understand, I cannot begin to understand how anyone could take an innocent life, whether it is terrorism or some other irresponsibility. Help us/help me to understand how to come along side these people in the time of their egregious actions and serve them in their time of need. Help me to set aside my anger, pain, hurt and serve in a way that pleases you.

In the precious name of Jesus Christ I pray.        Amen

Announcement: I will be revising and updating A History of Mississippi Baptists

Left to right: Dr. Shawn Parker, executive director-treasurer of the Mississippi Baptist Convention, Dr. Anthony Kay, executive director of the Mississippi Baptist Historical Commission, and myself. We are standing by a painting of the first Baptist church in Mississippi, Salem Church (Coles Creek) in Jefferson County, by retired Mississippi Baptist pastor Robert Mamrak. Photo by Barri Shirley.

I am pleased to announce that on November 3, 2021, I signed a contract with the Mississippi Baptist Convention to revise and update A History of Mississippi Baptists by Richard Aubrey McLemore. The book was published by the convention, which holds the copyright, in 1971.

I expect the project to take a few years, as I will be doing a thorough revision of the original work, checking it for accuracy and rewriting in a more narrative style. After the revision is done, I will add two more chapters to update the last 50 years. You can read the full news story about the book here.

Follow his blog for stories that I learn and share along the way!

A prayer of thanksgiving

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Copyright by Bob Rogers.

O Giver of good gifts, I am overwhelmed with thanksgiving for Your abundant blessings. I thank You that You opened my eyes this morning, You filled my lungs with air, and kept my heart beating. I thank You that You have given me sufficient food to eat, clothes to wear and a roof over my head. I thank You that You loved me so much that you sent Your only Son to die for my sins. I thank You that You filled my life with Your Holy Spirit. I thank You that You breathed upon Your word, the Bible, and gave it to me as a lamp to guide my way this day. I thank You for giving me a family who love me, and brothers and sisters in Christ in the church who encourage me. I thank You most of all, that because You opened my spiritual eyes to faith in Jesus Christ Your Son, I know that there is a morning coming, when I will open my eyes in heaven, and I will see You face to face. Until that day, may I live a life of gratitude, by serving others in the name of Jesus Christ my Lord.

Guest blog: Prayer when life is not all sunshine and cotton candy

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Copyright by Rodger Moore. (The following prayer is shared, with his permission, from the coordinator of the pastoral care department at the hospital where we both serve as chaplains.)

Lord, sunshine, cotton candy, joy and happiness are not always the paths of life. There are also those moments of shadows, sorrow, grief and indecision. Regardless of the path which my journey may be taking in these moments may I be reminded of your presence and words:
• Be still,
• Slow down,
• Listen,
• Peace Be Still,
• You are not alone,
• I am with you,
• Come to me,
• Joy comes in the morning
As the Shepherd, protect, look out over me and provide for me;

As the Light of the World illumine my path and bring guidance to my heart;

As the Comforter envelop me in your arms and warm my heart;

As the Physician reach out to touch my mind, body and spirit bringing wholeness and healing.

In all moments of life bring your peace, calmness, serenity and trust. Amen.

Prayer of hope in time of suffering

Copyright by Bob Rogers.

Lord, we despair under the dark clouds of suffering. We cannot see You or feel Your presence. Yet, we believe there is a light behind those clouds, because we have seen it before. Give us faith to hold on and trust You in the dark, until the day that the clouds part and Your light shines through again. In the name of Jesus, the light of the world, I pray. Amen.

Personal prayer for healing

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Copyright by Bob Rogers.

Oh, Lord God in heaven, please see my tears and hear my cry 1. Be gracious to me, for I are weak. Heal me on the bed where I lie2.  Lord Jesus, I know divine power is in You to heal me 3. Please have compassion on me, Jesus! 4. Just say the word, Lord, and I will be healed 5.

Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed; save me, Lord, and I will be saved, for You are my praise 6.

Scriptural basis for the prayer:

  1. 2 Kings 20:5
  2. Psalm 6:2; 41:3
  3. Luke  5:17
  4. Matthew 14:14
  5. Matthew 8:8
  6. Jeremiah 17:14

Prayer for spiritual healing

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Copyright by Bob Rogers.

Lord, be gracious to us, and heal us of our sin1. We have been unfaithful to You; heal us of our unfaithfulness2. We have wandered away from You, heal us as we return3. We have hidden our sins from You; heal us as we confess our sins4. You have wounded us and broken us; now bind up our wounds and heal our broken hearts. By Your wounds, Jesus, our sins are healed5. Lord, hear from heaven, forgive our sin, and heal our land6.

Scriptural allusions:

  1. Psalm 41:4
  2. Jeremiah 3:22
  3. Hosea 6:1
  4. James 5:16
  5. Isaiah 53:5
  6. 2 Chronicles 7:14

A prayer for my family

Copyright by Bob Rogers.

O God, teach me to love my family as fully and faithfully as the Heavenly Father loves Christ the Son, and as the Son loves the Father. May I honor my parents (Exodus 20:12), and may I delight in my children and grandchildren (Proverbs 23:24). Heavenly Father, please build a hedge of protection around my family, and bless the work of our hands. (Job 1:10). May we be united in love, blameless in character and wise in our decisions. May we learn to depend on You in prayer, and pass on the faith of Jesus Christ to our children, generation after generation, to the glory of God.  

A prayer in the pandemic

Copyright by Bob Rogers.

Oh, Lord, how we need Your presence in this pandemic.

For those who are sick, we ask for Your mercy and healing.

For those who are caring for the sick, we ask for Your compassion and strength.

For those who are afraid of the sickness, we ask for Your peace and protection.

For those who make policies about the sickness, we ask for Your wisdom and courage to do the right thing.

Heavenly Father, unite all of us, as Your children, by the bonds of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

Prayer to love difficult people

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Copyright by Bob Rogers.

Heavenly Father, You tell me to love my neighbor as myself (Leviticus 19:18). Jesus, You even tell me to love my enemies (Matthew 5:44). I must confess that this command is hard to obey. It’s hard to love people who are hateful, obnoxious, arrogant, lazy, and immoral. I simply cannot do it—on my own strength. Yet I know that You love them. Help me to love them because You love them, even when I don’t feel that way myself. Remind me that You loved me first, despite my sin. Remind me that I myself might be that difficult person that somebody else finds hard to love. So Lord, I ask that You do through me what I cannot do myself: love my neighbor through me; love even my enemies through me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Prayer of forgiveness for oneself

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Copyright by Bob Rogers.

Oh, Lord Jesus, You died upon the cross to redeem me from sin, but I struggle to forgive myself. The tax collector prayed, “Have mercy on me, a sinner!” (Luke 18:13). Yet I tend to say, “Woe is me, a sinner!” Since I have repented of my sin and renounced it with all my heart, help me now to have mercy on myself. You said that “if our hearts condemn us, God is greater than all our hearts, and knows all things” (1 John 3:20). So Lord, since You know that I am forgiven, help me to know it, too—not only in my mind, but in my heart.