Sunday Everyday

The Link between Domestic Violence and Porn

Tuesday Talks with Laura McNelly

I often get asked the question “What causes domestic violence?”  I totally believe that the escalation in violence toward woman is linked to gender inequality and to pornography.  When we understand that by the age of 13  %90 of boys have been introduced to porn, and small children are directed to porn sites from their iPads when they simply type in words like ‘Dora the Explora’. We are in a war that is bigger than we ever realised and its raging in our homes, supermarkets and in our communities.

 

Patriarchy, male dominated systems, male control, stupid talk about female submission all fuel the already explosive misunderstandings of equality and respect between the genders.

This article by Laura Mc Nelly from ABC Religion and Ethics describes the direct links between pornography, inequality and violence toward women.  This is a  must read for anyone who is genuinely interested in this global crisis.  We cannot afford to bury our heads in the sand any longer.  It’s going to take all of us to stop this global epidemic.

** Trigger warnings**

 

Pornography, Violence and Sexual Entitlement: An Unspeakable Truth

by Laura McNally

ABC RELIGION AND ETHICS 29 MAY 2015

A young woman stands in a room with several men around her. She tells the men that she is taking women’s studies at university. They respond by grabbing her throat to silence her. They move onto slapping her and pulling off her clothes.

The scene that follows is too graphic to recount. After the men finish, they ask her: “What do you think of feminism now?”

The woman in this film later stated she was not comfortable with what happened. Apparently, though, this was not sexual assault but a form of sexual expression – pornography.

Indeed, depictions of sexual violence are often promoted as an expression of women’s rights. “You could do a porn where a girl is getting choked and hit and spit on, the guy’s calling her a dirty slut and stuff and that’s okay. That can still be feminist,” says Joanna Angel, self-described feminist porn actress.

Such pornographic violence is symptomatic of a broader, global trend. This trend ranges from the brutal opportunism often seen in the wake of economic and environmental disasters, where vulnerable women are specifically targeted with violence or coerced into sex slavery; through to the proliferation new forms of sexual objectification, such as labiaplasty, men extorting younger girls to send pornographic images, child-on-child sex assault and new technology for global sex trading; through to the ever-widening gender pay gap and the increasing feminization of poverty.

In Australia, most violent crimes have been in decline, but the rates of domestic and sexual violence are soaring. Gendered violence has escalated to the point that now two women are killed each week – twice the historical average. As at the time of writing, 35 women have been killed in Australia this year alone, the majority of them by male partners.

Human hand stretch out from prison bars

While this spike in murders has sparked much hand-wringing about the problem of male violence against women, not only have there have been funding cuts to women’s refuges and support services, there has also been a conspicuous refusal to address the sexist attitudes that lead to such violence in the first place.

There is significant evidence that boys today are more sexist than their grandfathers’ generation, particularly when it comes to sexual expectations. Research conducted by The Line found that one in four young Australian men think it is normal for men to pressure women into sex. This is followed by a sharp increase in underage sexual assault convictions, an issue previously unheard of.

While traditional conceptions of gender were once enshrined in law and social norms, today men and women hold more equal roles than in generations past. What then is driving this renewed and more potent sexism toward women? Paul Linossier, CEO of Our Watch, a group campaigning against domestic violence, says the fundamental problem is attitudes towards women:

“We need to go upstream and understand that behind men’s control of women and the murder of intimate partners sits two key drivers; gender inequality and holding to traditional and rigid gender stereotypes.”

In terms of broad gender equality, Australia fares quite well. Australia boasts a fairly modern and egalitarian approach to women’s political and economic participation. Yet, there is another dimension to gender inequality often goes unaddressed. Innumerable studies implicate the role of Westernised “raunch culture” in driving sexism – that is, pornography and its ubiquity in everyday life.

Access to pornography is perhaps the most marked change across these generations. Exposure now begins as young as 9 with the average age at 11 and the largest group of pornography consumers being boys aged 12 to 17 years. Gone are the days of hiding Playboy under the mattress; today, the most commonly viewed form of pornography includes verbal and physical aggression against women in nearly 90% of the films that are freely available – indeed, almost unavoidable – on the internet.

Australian law enforcement has long seen the link between pornography and sexual violence, though this connection is persistently rejected by those who argue that porn is sexually liberating. Early epistemological studies were once mixed in their findings about porn, but today the evidence is mounting. A 2010 meta-analysis reviewed all studies from the 1980s until today; it found a strong correlation between exposure and aggressive attitudes. VicHealth released the following findings in their review in 2006:

“Exposure to sexually violent material increases male viewers’ acceptance of rape myths, desensitises them to sexual violence, erodes their empathy for victims of violence, and informs more callous attitudes towards female victims … adults also show an increase in behavioural aggression following exposure to pornography, again especially violent pornography.”

Not only does the research implicate the role of pornography, but front-line service providers are witnessing this firsthand. Nathan DeGuara, manager of the Men’s Referral Service, has seen a strong correlation between pornography and domestic violence, with increasing sexual expectations directly linked to porn use. Di McLeod, the Director of the Gold Coast Centre for Sexual Violence, has this to say about intimate partner violence:

“In the past few years we have had a huge increase in intimate partner rape of women from 14 to 80+. The biggest common denominator is consumption of porn by the offender … We have seen a huge increase in deprivation of liberty, physical injuries, torture, drugging, filming and sharing footage without consent. I founded the centre 25 years ago and what is now considered to be the norm in 2015 is frightening.”

Recent UK research shows that nearly half of teenage girls are coerced into unwanted sexual acts. Underage girls are presenting with bowel incontinence and anal tearing as a result of boyfriends who insist on replicating pornographic scenarios they have watched. At the extreme end of the spectrum, entire online forums are dedicated to men celebrating stories of rape and sexual assault. According to sites such as The Philosophy of Rape, it is “absolutely justifiable” that men have sex, even by force, if women don’t provide what they “need.” This is the world that porn has built, and post-millennials are the first to fully experience it.

Young women are also speaking out concerning the way pornographic expectations have become the norm for their generation. 23 year old Rosie had this to say on her experiences:

“Being told that my gag reflex was too strong… Bullied into submitting to facials. I didn’t want to. He said [jokingly] that he’d ejaculate on my face while I was asleep. He wasn’t joking – I woke up with him wanking over me … Bullied into trying anal. It hurt so much I begged him to stop. He stopped, then complained that I was being too sensitive … He continued to ask for it … Constant requests for threesomes … Constant requests to let him film it … Every single straight girl I know has had similar experiences. Every. Single. One. Some have experienced far worse. Some have given in, some have resisted, all have felt guilty and awkward for not … giving him what he wants.”

Despite the seriousness of accounts like Rosie’s, there is still little, if any, criticism of pornification that isn’t immediately disregarded as censorious, prudish or puritan.

The use of hackneyed defences like “diversity” and “free choice” have led to intense denial of the harms of pornography. Such is the extent of pro-porn denialism, that it is now bandied around as a form of women’s rights. Behind this denialism is almost certainly a generational age-gap, but there is importantly also the presence of industry-political ties. Lobby groups who brand themselves as progressive or even feminist are working hard to relax legislation, branding anyone who questions their agenda as “anti sex.”

But the proliferation of the sex industry is occurring in everyday life, with stripping and pornographic modelling being rife in social media, pop culture and advertising, even evolving into so-called sports and fitness. Far from the sex industry being stigmatised, it is increasingly being rated as a career goal by young girls.

This glamorisation obscures the dangerous reality. Despite the oft-repeated claim that “consenting adults choose this,” the reality is that choice is becoming increasingly constrained, particularly for young and vulnerable people.

The denial of the sex industry’s role in perpetuating sexism and its rebranding as “feminist” is a serious impediment to tackling gender inequality. While there is vocal commentary around reducing domestic and sexual violence in Australia, those voices are conspicuously quiet when the violence depicted is in pornography. Too many women’s advocates remain complicit in the sexual entitlement and unadorned violence that this industry is making normative.

While campaigns seek longer jail terms that will keep sex offenders out of society, this won’t change the terrain that is funnelling more and more young men down this dangerous path. The police cannot arrest their way out of the problem, nor can a lesson on sexual health undo a lifetime of socialisation.

Marches and protests against domestic violence rage on, discussions continue to unpack male entitlement, yet the elephant in the room remains unacknowledged. One of the most omnipresent and unavoidable drivers of sexist violence is seemingly invisible. To address sexist violence, advocates must challenge the lie that pornography is progressive.

Laura McNally is a psychologist, consultant, author and doctoral candidate. Her research draws upon critical and feminist theory. She is also a contributor to The Freedom Fallacy: Limits of Liberal Feminism. You can click the link to order.

http://www.abc.net.au/religion/

 

 

The Way – An On-line Pilgrimage for Life

Hi all.  This is a very special invitation from Ray Simpson about an online course he has written.  This is a great tool for discipleship and application.  I encourage you to consider it.  I will be enrolling and look forward to what this journey has to offer.  The way-marks are like sign posts along the way, guiding us to a deeper level of contemplation and transformation.  The course grows out of a life-time exploring a Way of Life that could guide us through a new Dark Age.

Ray Simpson is the Founding Guardian, The international Community of Aidan and Hilda www.aidanandhilda.org

The world is at a cross ways. So is Christianity. The first Christians were called Followers of the Way.  Where’s it going in our time?

The Way

An On-line Pilgrimage for Life

for millennials to veterans from every land

This is not a journey about class, race, religious, money and power wars, the roads to untruth, fear, break-up – to nowhere.

 This is a road TO A WAY OF LIFE    for individuals, communities, the world.

The first Christians were called Followers of the Way.

This way is green, but will take us through dark valleys and heights of vision.  This authentic way in a post-truth world leads us to edges and common ground, to Ground Zero and deep listening. It leads towards a divine cosmic love affair. Don’t miss it.

This is part of a mass movement of people who care for earth, community and people.

TO ENROL

Go to www.waymarksoflife.com

The Course 

 

This course will unfold insights, excite us to live in a whole new way, and help us to shape a whole new world. It suggests small, gentle, even playful first steps along the way, but does not shirk the hard things we shall sooner or later meet in life and in ourselves. Later, as the journey moves out of the sunny paths a soul friend or mentor may prove to be a vital support. .

It is open to all without obligation.

Three Options

There are three ways to gain the benefits of emails from waymarksoflife:

Option One. Use the emails as an aid for personal growth only.

Option Two. Use the emails as an aid for personal growth but engage a friend or mentor as a support to discovery or growth.

Option Three. Use Option One or Two and join the Waymarksoflife Facebook page where you can read of the journeys of others or discuss with others your journey. This is a closed group and only open to those who enrol.

Course Originator

This self-guided course is written by Ray Simpson, Founding Guardian of the dispersed international Community of Aidan and Hilda. Sales of his books on Christian spirituality are approaching their first quarter million. See www.raysimpson.org

You may enrol free of charge and cancel at any time. It costs us money, so we invite donations.  

TO ENROL and get more information Go to www.waymarksoflife.com

Seven days of emails are followed by resources and spiritual formation exercises to be tried out for a week. These emails will be sent for several years. They (with their follow-up material) may be returned to throughout life. An email is sent each day for seven days, then seven days for reflection, then the cycle starts again. The course is self-guided, but students may add insights and resources to our Facebook page (private – only open to subscribers at waymarksoflife) .

 

Churches

There are millions of churches, thousands of church-based courses and hundreds of missional networks. Followers of the Way may be engaged with any of these. Although this course is designed for individuals it highlights some core principles and practices that churches can also adopt if they wish to be servants of The Way. It also identifies some things that distance churches from the people and it suggests ways of transforming these. We hope churches and networks will commend these emails to members.

Subjects for each two-week unit for the first three years

  1. The World at a Cross Ways
  2. World voices: can we travel this Way?
  3. Questions at the gate
  4. Is this a new monastic Way?
  5. A Way of Life: What, why, where, but and how?
  6. Introduction to a Way of Life
  7. A Way of Simplicity
  8. A Way of Purity
  9. A Way of Obedience
  10. The Fruit of the Three Life-giving Principles
  11. Waymark 1 The wisdom of life-long learning
  12. Waymark 1 Life-long learning from Scripture
  13. Waymark 1 Ways of reading Scripture
  14. Waymark 1 Life-long learning from inspired people
  15. Waymark 1 Life-long learning from life
  16. Waymark 1 Life-long learning through creative arts
  17. Waymark 2 Journey
  18. Waymark 2 Journey with a soul friend (1)
  19. Waymark 2 Journey with a soul friend (2)
  20. Waymark 2 Journey with retreats
  21. Waymark 2 Journey with pilgrimage
  22. Waymark 2 Journey through the seasons of life
  23. Waymark 3 Rhythm
  24. Waymark 3 Rhythm of Daily Prayer
  25. Waymark 3 Rhythm of seasons
  26. Waymark 3 Rhythm of Work
  27. Waymark 3 Rhythm of Re-Creation
  28. Waymark 3 All ways of praying
  29. Waymark 3 More ways of praying
  30. Waymark 4 Praying for God’s will in God’s world
  31. Waymark 4 Overcome evil with good
  32. Waymark 4 Interceders
  33. Waymark 5 Simple Life-style
  34. Waymark 5 Hospitality
  35. Waymark 6 Creation – God’s sacrament
  36. Waymark 6 Creation – its groans
  37. Waymark 6 Creation care
  38. Waymark 7 Healing
  39. Waymark 7 Healing inner wounds
  40. Waymark 7 Healing wounded communities
  41. Waymark 7 The trail of the true human being
  42. Waymark 7 Live life to the full
  43. Waymark 8 Open to God’s Spirit
  44. Waymark 8 Learn to Listen
  45. Waymark 8 Prophecy
  46. Weaving together the God-given strands
  47. Church questions
  48. Waymark 9 Villages of God
  49. Waymark 9 Conflict resolution
  50. Waymark 9 Building Community
  51. Waymark 9 The Good Society

52 Waymark 10 Share Jesus and justice – the big picture.

  1. Waymark 10 Authentic witness
  2. Waymark 10  Indigenous and Cross-cultural Mission
  3. Waymark 10 Stand with the poor
  4. Waymark 10 Stand for truth
  5. Waymark 10 Signs and wonders
  6. Waymark 10  God-led lands
  7. Waymark 10 Economy means Oikonomia
  8. Waymark 10 A civilisation of love
  9. Waymark 10 The glorious Trinity
  10. Waymark 10 Leadership
  11. Flame and Struggle – Aidan
  12. Flame and Struggle –  Hilda
  13. Twelve Celtic Witnesses
  14. Ireland’s Twelve Apostles
  15. More great Celtic saints
  16. Stories of Desert Fathers and Mothers
  17. Monks and moderns: old habits die hard
  18. Corporate Expressions of the Community
  19. Explore: Taste and see
  20. Callings, Commitments and Coracles
  21. The Long Voyage
  22. The Celtic Community Cross
  23. Thin Places
  24. The Community of Aidan and Hilda – its name, oversight and inner dynamic.
  25. Reflecting back
  26. Letters from soul friends
  27. Mysticism
  28. The joy of spiritual fitness
  29. Growing old
  30. Live and die well
  31. Aidan and Hilda A-Z: their spiritual children today
  32. Review
  33. My personal sharing
  34. When the going gets tough
  35. Your feed-back
  36. Your questions
  37. More questions…

 

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If the work here is meaningful to you, you can partner with me in a very real way through Patreon.com.

Patreon allows me to get support for the work that I do on this blog.    Patreon allows people to financially pledge to support artists, writers, musicians, and other creative people. Sunday Everyday has been on line since the first of February 2015.  Since that time I have been doing this in a volunteer capacity.  For the blog to continue I need your support.  You may want to give the amount you would spend on a coffee and muffin once a month or you may wish to pledge $50.00 a month or more.  Every bit helps.

Please help support my ministry and magnify my voice by pledging.

Thanks for considering.

Love Lisa

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What is a Christian?

What is a Christian?

All of us have different thoughts that spring to mind.  Some cultures would say that a Christian is a white privileged colonist who forces you to act, walk and talk just like them.  Others would say that Christians are people who go to church every week.  Some would say that Christians are judgemental people who live according to a rule book.

Last week a neighbour of mine asked me: “What does it mean to be a Christian?”

To me, and this is how I answered, being a Christian is a transforming relationship with Jesus Christ.  Jesus has to invade our personality.  Salvation comes by surrendering to Christ and allowing him to invade and permeate your being, saturating your life and changing you into a new person.  It is not enough to just believe that he is the son of God.  We must become like him.

 John 1:12 tells us, “To all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”   A Christian is a person who follows Christ and his teachings.  It is as simple as that.
How do you recognise a Christian? 

Jesus said that his disciples will be known by their love (Jn 13:35).

“If conversion to Christianity makes no improvement in a man’s outward actions – if he continues to be just a snobbish or spiteful or envious as he was before – then I think we must suspect that his ‘conversion’ was largely imaginary.”
#CSLewis

Unfortunately, institutionalised Christianity has settled for rules, rituals, and tribal belonging, losing sight of the transformative way of faith.

For centuries, Christianity has been presented as a ‘system of beliefs’. “That system of beliefs has supported a wide range of unintended consequences, from colonialism to environmental destruction, inferiority of women to stigmatization of LGBT people, anti-Semitism to Islamophobia, clergy pedophilia to white privilege” (source). 

What if Christians actually saw following Christ as a just and generous way of life?

Unfortunately some Christians have portrayed Christianity as an exclusive club of ‘us and them’.  Instructing: these are the hoops you must jump through,  this is what you must do to belong.  Portraying God as a Santa who showers blessings and privileges upon those who are a part of the in group.

‘”Jesus did not come to create a country club or a tribe of people who could say, “We’re in and you’re out. We’ve got the truth and you don’t.” Jesus came to reveal something that was true everywhere, for everyone, and all the time”‘ (Rohr).

What if Christians stopped defining Christianity as a set of rules and doctrines and actually became known by their love?  

When you read the Gospels you see God as one who “eats with sinners,” welcomes outsiders in, and forgives even while being rejected, tortured, and killed. Jesus taught that God was to be found in self-giving service rather than in power and domination.

“What would it mean for Christians to understand, experience, and embody God as the loving, healing, reconciling Spirit in whom all creatures live, move, and have their being?”(Rohr)

Jesus said that we would be known by our love.  He also taught that a tree is known by its fruit.

How do you recognise a Christ follower?  They taste good.  They are delicious and life-giving.  They nurture and nourish.

If a tree produces apples you know it’s an apple tree.  If a tree produces lemons it is a lemon tree.  What fruit are we growing and feeding to those around us.

‘The Fruit of the Holy Spirit’ is a biblical term that sums up nine characteristics of the person of the Holy Spirit.  A Christ follower is someone who has the Holy Spirit  living inside of them.  The book of Galatians names the fruit: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”

These are the fruits that we measure our lives by. 

We need to ask, what do we taste like.  What do people encounter when they come in contact with us?

Unknown

Jesus taught us how to live well with each other.  He was concerned with equality, he believed that ‘everything’ belongs and that everyone is equal. He was also very concerned with producing fruit.

“As Christians we should concentrate on issues such as fighting poverty, caring for the environment, advancing peace, promoting strong families, and supporting a consistent ethic of life, all viewed as critical moral and biblical values” (Tony Campolo).

The biblical picture of Shalom is how a community of Christians should live.  Shalom is where every person has enough, it is a community where everyone belongs and where every person has the right to flourish.

Jesus said that the person who shows mercy to his neighbour is the person that shall inherit eternal life. This person is a co-heir with Christ,  a child of God.

Luke 10:25-37New Living Translation (NLT)

The Most Important Commandment

One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?”

The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’”

 “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!”The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbour?”

Parable of the Good Samaritan

Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.

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 “By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by.32 A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.

 “Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him.Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins,telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’

“Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked.

The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”

Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”

If the work here is meaningful to you, you can partner with me in a very real way through Patreon.com.

Patreon allows me to get support for the work that I do on this blog.    Patreon allows people to financially pledge to support artists, writers, musicians, and other creative people. Sunday Everyday has been on-line since the first of February 2015.  Since that time I have been doing this in a volunteer capacity.  For the blog to continue I need your support.  You may want to give the amount you would spend on a coffee and muffin once a month or you may wish to pledge $50.00 a month or more.  Every bit helps.

Please help support my ministry and magnify my voice by pledging.

Thanks for considering.

Love Lisa

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Join 1,204 other followers

Anthology on Prayer: Part Two

Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of gratitude. James 5:13

Anthology on Prayer:  Part 2

A few weeks ago I contacted several of my friends and asked them to comment on two questions about the topic of prayer.  They were kind enough to send back their responses for us to read. These were the questions that I asked.

1:  What is prayer to you?

2:  Does prayer work?

In Anthology on Prayer Part 1, we had guests Nicole Conner, Dr Ps John Drane and Cameron Semmens.  You can read their thoughts here:  Anthology on Prayer Part One.

Today our guests on the blog are Joel McKerrow and Mark Conner.

Let me introduce you to Joel McKerrow.  Joel is one of the most beautiful and deep souls you will ever meet.  He is a safe place, a harbour of peace and a wonder with words.

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Joel McKerrow  is a writer, speaker, educator, community arts worker and one of Australia’s most successful internationally touring performance poets. Based out of Melbourne, Australia he is the Artist Ambassador for the aid and development organisation ‘TEAR Australia’ and currently teaches at Whitley College.  Accomplished author and poet, Joel is passionate about discovering a new way to live outside the system of the Empire of Greed and spends much of his time trying to match his actions with this belief.

Father Richard Rohr talks about Joel here: 

“The old windows are not letting in much light. Nor do they allow people to look out, through and beyond. We see it everywhere: in the cynicism of politics, the machinery of the market, the intransigence of religion passing for faith, and the ravaged quality of so many human lives. Light is not getting through. We have always waited and asked for better windows, a truer lens, some ways to see the brightness and goodness that we somehow know is there. It is to this deeper, already knowing, that Joel McKerrow appeals. He draws us through a much better window.”

~ Father Richard Rohr, The Centre for Action and Contemplation ~

Joel, what is prayer to you?

1. Prayer is a movement of the self toward the divine. It is, in the everydayness of life, a choosing to be present and a giving of ones attention to the God who is always present and attentive toward us. It is an opening up of ones cognition, emotion and physicality toward this God.

Prayer is the thin place between the invisible world and the visible. It is the turning of the ache and the wound and the desire and the shadow toward the sacred one and in doing so being transformed.

Does prayer work?

2. The term ‘work’ might be problematic when we come to prayer. Especially in our Western understanding of progress and production and fast-food gratification. Most often prayer does not feed our expectations, which can feel as though it is therefore not ‘working’. However, prayer is never about the destination of an answer, of something that ‘worked’. It is more a re-orientation of the self, it offers a way to know the presence of God regardless of what the reality of life might about to be.

If the point of prayer is simply a movement of the self toward the divine, then it works every time.

Mark Conner is one of the kindest people you will meet and is a family friend.   Mark  has been involved in church leadership for over three decades. He is a gifted leader, author and speaker who brings a wealth of wisdom and life experience to whatever he engages in.

Mark has a genuine love for people and a passion to help them grow and change. He has a Masters of Arts degree in theology from Ridley College and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Fuller Theological Seminary.  You can follow Mark here on his blog: Mark Conners Space

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1. What is prayer to you?

To me, prayer is simply conversation with God. It is endeavouring to live all of life with a constant awareness that he is with me and for me. It includes speaking to him – audibly but also just in my thoughts at times – but also listening for him – not always speaking through tangible words to me but also through thoughts, promptings, feelings and sometimes simply through an amazing sense of peace. Like our very breath, to me prayer is meant to be like the air that we breathe, not something we merely do at the beginning of the day in a ‘quiet time’ or in a formal church meeting.

2. Does prayer work?

I don’t see prayer as a way to manipulate God to do what I want him to do. Much of the formulaic methodologies of how to pray in order to twist God’s arm to act as I think he should smells of magic incantations to me.

To me, prayer works in that it makes me more aware of God and it reminds me that I am not in charge of the world, which is good news.

Thank you Mark and Joel for your insights and your wisdom.

Our prayers are precious to God. They represent His promises to us, and His relationship with us. If you are going through a really challenging time at the moment and you feel like there is no hope.  Or that prayer is just a waste of time.  I will leave you with these words from N.T.Wright. Taken from an interview with Dargan Thompson on August 18 2015. 

So what do you say to people who are in a rough period and they’re waiting for something to happen and it just isn’t coming?

In that period of waiting, it’s like when you sow a seed in the ground in the fall, in the autumn, and you want to be impatient. You want to say, “I planted the seed, I want something to grow straight away, please.” But you have to wait through the winter.

During the winter, it isn’t that nothing is happening, it’s that the seed is germinating out of sight underground. It needs to be there. In the spring, when the new shoots happen, it looks sudden to us, because we haven’t seen anything going on until then, but actually, stuff has been going on underground.

Again and again, God works underground in our lives, in our imaginations, in our personal circumstances and in the wider world, and then suddenly something new happens, a new project, a new moment in our lives, and we’re astonished at it. T.S. Elliot had that wonderful poem that’s part of his four quartets where he says, “Wait without thought, for you are not yet ready for thought.” In other words, don’t even try to figure out what’s going on. If God has kept you in the dark at the moment, it may be because you have to go through a winter season in order that the spring, when it comes, will find those new plants well rooted and well bedded in.

That’s very difficult, because the darkness looks just dark. But that’s where we cling onto the teaching and promise of Jesus. Jesus taught those parables about seeds growing secretly and so on precisely in order that people could latch onto the promise that even when it looks dark, looks as though nothing is happening, God is at work and the seeds will indeed produce fruit at the right time.

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If the work here is meaningful to you, you can partner with me in a very real way through Patreon.com.

Patreon allows me to get support for the work that I do on this blog.    Patreon allows people to financially pledge to support artists, writers, musicians, and other creative people. Sunday Everyday has been on-line since the first of February 2015.  Since that time I have been doing this in a volunteer capacity.  For the blog to continue I need your support.  You may want to give the amount you would spend on a coffee and muffin once a month or you may wish to pledge $50.00 a month or more.  Every bit helps.

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Does Prayer Really Work? The Power of a Mothers Prayer.

Does Prayer Really Work? The Power of a Mothers Prayer.  by Lisa Hunt-Wotton

I was born under an umbrella of matriarchy, steeped in prayer and giggles.

My Nanna was a woman who prayed constantly for her family.  She had each of their pictures in frames on shelves in her little room and every day she would pray for each of her children and grandchildren.  I knew that I was the luckiest little girl in the ‘whole world’ because when I was about 10 my Nanna came to live with us.  There was nothing better in the universe than being close to Nanna.  She was sweet and cheeky.  Even her name was like a cloud of Spring Sunshine –  ‘Violet’.

She loved a cup of tea but she detested dirty feet.  Oh ouch ouch !!!!!  My little sister and I would sit in two inches of lukewarm bath water at the end of the day with our feet in the air while Nanna scrubbed our feet clean with a flannel and we tried not to squirm or she would scrub harder.  “Dirty little heathens” she would mutter.  ‘These dirty little feet wont be getting into my clean sheets’.

My Nanna loved tea, ‘Lan Choo Tea’.   Lan Choo tea because The LAN-CHOO Bonus Plan offers you a choice from over 500 useful gifts in exchange for the Bonus Labels on the end of each LAN-CHOO packet.

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“Next time you are in town visit the LAN-CHOO ‘Bonus Showrooms’ and inspect the useful and interesting range of Bonus Presents awaiting LAN-CHOO customers”.

I’m not sure that we ever went to those magical  ‘Bonus Showrooms’ in Flinders Street Melbourne, but she was passionate about saving those labels.  She even had a special tin for them.

Often I would creep into her room and kneel with her by her bed and listen to her pray.  I remember her saying to me,  “Lisa, we don’t ever need to fear.  Sometimes things may go wrong in life, we may be haunted but we’ll never be daunted”.  She was a funny lady, full of mischief, a wicked sense of humour and a woman of prayer.

She smelled like lavender and washed my hair with curly pet.  ‘Curly Pet’ the wonder of wonders was ordered every month.  The label stated that it was “guaranteed to give your baby curls”. My head was liberally smothered with it which is hilarious because I actually have naturally curly hair which of course was attributed to the wonder working powers of ‘Curly Pet’ and not my DNA.

She used Curly Pet on my hair and the magnificent Dippity Do on hers.  I’m not sure what excactly dippty do did, but as a young child I loved nothing more than to get into all the magical pots and formulas on Nanas dressing table.  Dippity Do was also a great standby if you ran out of clagg.

Nanna taught me how to tap dance, how to play pranks, how to play scrabble and how to pray.

Nanna had three daughters and two sons.  The eldest child, my mother, and my two aunts Carol and Bev, have also inherited this mandate of prayer and my Nanna’s wicked sense of humour.  Although our families have been through some traumatic times, two thing stands firm in their lives:  prayer and an irreverent sense of humour.

Prayer and humour have helped us navigate some dark days.  Somehow we always bounced back because:

1:  The Lord is good and He answers prayer

2:  We were never allowed to be daunted

I didn’t really know what daunted meant as a child. Today I finally looked up what daunted means. It means to: “take aback, shake, throw, demoralise or dishearten.  AND if ever we were thinking about being a little tiny bit daunted, there was always a strong cup of tea with lots of sugar to knock that nonsense out of us.

I learned from my Nan that Prayer is simply a conversation with God.  The bible tells us that prayer brings peace, and wisdom and that it is effective and powerful.  ‘So we…petitioned our God about this and he answered our prayer’ (Ezra 8:23).

Today I have asked my mother Lauris and my two aunts Aunty Bev and Aunty Carol to answer some questions for me about prayer.  My Mother is 87 this year.  I can’t tell you how old my aunts are because I’m still scared of them and they could kill me for telling you.  Or ‘slap me over the wrist with a tram ticket’ as my Nana would say.

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Aren’t they beautiful they are so precious:  Aunty Bev on the left, Aunty Carol in the middle and Mum (Lauris) on the right.  Standing outside the home they grew up in Abbotsford.

To this day each of my siblings and 19 cousins know that at any time of the day or night,  they have an open line to either of these three women for prayer requests.  They pray regularly and often pray  together over the phone.  Many times I have joined these matriarchs in times of prayer.

In the movie ‘The Castle’, presents go straight to the pool room.  In our family prayer requests go straight to the ‘hot line’.

From: The Sisters about their mother

Mum used to get up very early in the morning to pray and then would return to her room several times during the day to pray some more.  She called her bedroom her ‘prayer closet’ or her ‘sanctuary’.  Prayer was very important part of mums life and she would receive prayer requests from friends and family daily.  You would often hear her on the phone praying with someone.  She was a warrior woman and would never give up.

As sisters we do a prayer reading everyday.  Prayer is a major part of our lives too.  We do a reading together every day so that we have read the whole bible through each year.  We pray in the morning and at night and there are many times when we are woken up in the middle of the night to pray – or have a burden of prayer.  When we are worried about one of our kids or grandchildren we say “Well there no use worrying about it,  Lets Pray!”

We have seen our prayers answered so many times that there are too many to mention.

Does prayer work?   Of course prayer works.  Bev could not have children and Mum got us together to pray.  Mum said to Bev “you are not barren” and we will pray believing.   A few months later Bev was pregnant.

We feel so happy and excited when we pray.  We feel really free in our spirit and Bev really gets revved up (don’t put that bit in cause she’ll get mad).  Sometimes we cry and laugh for joy at the goodness of God and how good he has been to our families.  We are truly blessed.

Even when there seems no way out or ‘no answer’, prayer bring us peace, joy and an assurance that we can rest knowing that God cares for our families and we can trust Him.  He has never failed us.  God is Good.

This testimony from Bev concerning her friend Kirsten and the power of prayer.

Kirsten’s husband Sam was destroying his life on ice and had become abusive to the family so he left her. Kirsten needed prayer as her two young sons were being hard to handle.  They did not want to go school, they were sleeping in her bed  and generally not coping with the situation.

One day Kristen came  to visit me with her two boys.   I could sense that they were very distraught so I asked the  boys if I could pray with them and they said yes.  I asked them ‘what would you like me to pray for?’   They asked if  we could pray for their dad to get better.  I said if I pray will you believe with me and they said yes.   So together we prayed for their father.   After texting the boys daily to encourage them and pray with them, we then heard  that Sam had come home and asked forgiveness for being so nasty.  He also asked if the boys would thank the ladies that had been praying for him.  He was so amazed that two ladies (Lauris and Bev) who didn’t even know him, were praying for him.

Sams recovery was a miracle.  He went and asked for professional help, he then attended every meeting needed to get well.  He ended up getting a  certificate to say he was free from drugs and is now home with his family.

The truth is that the faith and prayers of the boys was answered.  God answers prayer.

Final comment from Lauris

It is very important to pray.   The ‘big thing’ is that you pray with faith and believe God and you must believe in what you are asking for.  Speak to God as if you were speaking to your father who loves you and who wants to look after you.  Speak with an open heart like a little child because He cares about you with an everlasting love.  Get started on exercising your faith, people are always talking about how we need to exercise,  but forget to exercise their faith.  Exercise builds muscle and endurance.  It’s no different with faith and prayer.  Believe in God and you will see some mighty things begin to happen.

I hope you enjoyed this little journey into my family heritage.  I feel very blessed to have these precious women in my life.

 

If the work here is meaningful to you, you can partner with me in a very real way through Patreon.com.

Patreon allows people to financially pledge to support artists, writers, musicians, and other creative people.

Sunday Everyday has been on line since the first of February 2015.  Since that time I have been doing this in a volunteer capacity.  For the blog to continue I need your support to help pay for annual fees etc..  You may want to give the amount you would spend on a coffee and muffin once a month.  Every bit helps.

Please help support my ministry and magnify my voice by pledging.

Thanks for considering.

Love Lisa

https://www.patreon.com/SundayEveryday

 

 

 

 

 

Reclaiming Jesus

In early March 2018, Christian leaders gathered together in New York to discuss the perilous and polarizing times that they are facing as a nation and the dangerous crisis of moral and political leadership at the highest levels of  government and in the churches.

Believing that the soul of the nation and the integrity of faith are now at stake they drafted a confession of faith to address their concerns.  

The meeting  took place with  Rev. Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners, the Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, Tony Campolo, Fr Richard Rohr, Rev. Dr. Walter Brueggemann and 20 other Protestant and Roman Catholic leaders.

They have launched a campaign to “reclaim Jesus” from those who they believe are using Christian theology for political gain. The signers agreed to the wording of the statement at an Ash Wednesday retreat that Curry hosted at the Episcopal Church Center in New York. Together they crafted this confession of what faith in times like these require.  Their prayer is that  we, as followers of Jesus, will find the depth of faith to match the danger of our political crisis.

This address gives me great hope that there are Christian men and women in leadership who are not afraid to stand up for what they believe in.  Who will go against the current tides of popularity and political insanity that is sweeping across the globe.

Finally – something that makes sense.

This full and unedited confession of faith has been reposted with permission from ReclaimingJesus.org

A Confession of Faith in a Time of Crisis

We are living through perilous and polarizing times as a nation, with a dangerous crisis of moral and political leadership at the highest levels of our government and in our churches. We believe the soul of the nation and the integrity of faith are now at stake.

It is time to be followers of Jesus before anything else—nationality, political party, race, ethnicity, gender, geography—our identity in Christ precedes every other identity. We pray that our nation will see Jesus’ words in us. “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).

When politics undermines our theology, we must examine that politics. The church’s role is to change the world through the life and love of Jesus Christ. The government’s role is to serve the common good by protecting justice and peace, rewarding good behavior while restraining bad behavior (Romans 13). When that role is undermined by political leadership, faith leaders must stand up and speak out. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state.”

It is often the duty of Christian leaders, especially elders, to speak the truth in love to our churches and to name and warn against temptations, racial and cultural captivities, false doctrines, and political idolatries—and even our complicity in them. We do so here with humility, prayer, and a deep dependency on the grace and Holy Spirit of God.

This letter comes from a retreat on Ash Wednesday, 2018. In this season of Lent, we feel deep lamentations for the state of our nation, and our own hearts are filled with confession for the sins we feel called to address. The true meaning of the word repentance is to turn around. It is time to lament, confess, repent, and turn. In times of crisis, the church has historically learned to return to Jesus Christ.

Jesus is Lord. That is our foundational confession. It was central for the early church and needs to again become central to us. If Jesus is Lord, then Caesar was not—nor any other political ruler since. If Jesus is Lord, no other authority is absolute. Jesus Christ, and the kingdom of God he announced, is the Christian’s first loyalty, above all others. We pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). Our faith is personal but never private, meant not only for heaven but for this earth.

The question we face is this: Who is Jesus Christ for us today? What does our loyalty to Christ, as disciples, require at this moment in our history? We believe it is time to renew our theology of public discipleship and witness. Applying what “Jesus is Lord” means today is the message we commend as elders to our churches.

What we believe leads us to what we must reject. Our “Yes” is the foundation for our “No.” What we confess as our faith leads to what we confront. Therefore, we offer the following six affirmations of what we believe, and the resulting rejections of practices and policies by political leaders which dangerously corrode the soul of the nation and deeply threaten the public integrity of our faith. We pray that we, as followers of Jesus, will find the depth of faith to match the danger of our political crisis.

I. WE BELIEVE each human being is made in God’s image and likeness (Genesis 1:26). That image and likeness confers a divinely decreed dignity, worth, and God-given equality to all of us as children of the one God who is the Creator of all things. Racial bigotry is a brutal denial of the image of God (the imago dei) in some of the children of God. Our participation in the global community of Christ absolutely prevents any toleration of racial bigotry. Racial justice and healing are biblical and theological issues for us, and are central to the mission of the body of Christ in the world. We give thanks for the prophetic role of the historic black churches in America when they have called for a more faithful gospel.

THEREFORE, WE REJECT the resurgence of white nationalism and racism in our nation on many fronts, including the highest levels of political leadership. We, as followers of Jesus, must clearly reject the use of racial bigotry for political gain that we have seen. In the face of such bigotry, silence is complicity. In particular, we reject white supremacy and commit ourselves to help dismantle the systems and structures that perpetuate white preference and advantage. Further, any doctrines or political strategies that use racist resentments, fears, or language must be named as public sin—one that goes back to the foundation of our nation and lingers on. Racial bigotry must be antithetical for those belonging to the body of Christ, because it denies the truth of the gospel we profess.

II. WE BELIEVE we are one body. In Christ, there is to be no oppression based on race, gender, identity, or class (Galatians 3:28). The body of Christ, where those great human divisions are to be overcome, is meant to be an example for the rest of society. When we fail to overcome these oppressive obstacles, and even perpetuate them, we have failed in our vocation to the world—to proclaim and live the reconciling gospel of Christ.

THEREFORE, WE REJECT misogyny, the mistreatment, violent abuse, sexual harassment, and assault of women that has been further revealed in our culture and politics, including our churches, and the oppression of any other child of God. We lament when such practices seem publicly ignored, and thus privately condoned, by those in high positions of leadership. We stand for the respect, protection, and affirmation of women in our families, communities, workplaces, politics, and churches. We support the courageous truth-telling voices of women, who have helped the nation recognize these abuses. We confess sexism as a sin, requiring our repentance and resistance.

III. WE BELIEVE how we treat the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the stranger, the sick, and the prisoner is how we treat Christ himself. (Matthew 25: 31-46) “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” God calls us to protect and seek justice for those who are poor and vulnerable, and our treatment of people who are “oppressed,” “strangers,” “outsiders,” or otherwise considered “marginal” is a test of our relationship to God, who made us all equal in divine dignity and love. Our proclamation of the lordship of Jesus Christ is at stake in our solidarity with the most vulnerable. If our gospel is not “good news to the poor,” it is not the gospel of Jesus Christ (Luke 4:18).

THEREFORE, WE REJECT the language and policies of political leaders who would debase and abandon the most vulnerable children of God. We strongly deplore the growing attacks on immigrants and refugees, who are being made into cultural and political targets, and we need to remind our churches that God makes the treatment of the “strangers” among us a test of faith (Leviticus 19:33-34). We won’t accept the neglect of the well-being of low-income families and children, and we will resist repeated attempts to deny health care to those who most need it. We confess our growing national sin of putting the rich over the poor. We reject the immoral logic of cutting services and programs for the poor while cutting taxes for the rich. Budgets are moral documents. We commit ourselves to opposing and reversing those policies and finding solutions that reflect the wisdom of people from different political parties and philosophies to seek the common good. Protecting the poor is a central commitment of Christian discipleship, to which 2,000 verses in the Bible attest.

IV. WE BELIEVE that truth is morally central to our personal and public lives. Truth-telling is central to the prophetic biblical tradition, whose vocation includes speaking the Word of God into their societies and speaking the truth to power. A commitment to speaking truth, the ninth commandment of the Decalogue, “You shall not bear false witness” (Exodus 20:16), is foundational to shared trust in society. Falsehood can enslave us, but Jesus promises, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32). The search and respect for truth is crucial to anyone who follows Christ.

THEREFORE, WE REJECT the practice and pattern of lying that is invading our political and civil life. Politicians, like the rest of us, are human, fallible, sinful, and mortal. But when public lying becomes so persistent that it deliberately tries to change facts for ideological, political, or personal gain, the public accountability to truth is undermined. The regular purveying of falsehoods and consistent lying by the nation’s highest leaders can change the moral expectations within a culture, the accountability for a civil society, and even the behavior of families and children. The normalization of lying presents a profound moral danger to the fabric of society. In the face of lies that bring darkness, Jesus is our truth and our light.

V. WE BELIEVE that Christ’s way of leadership is servanthood, not domination. Jesus said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles (the world) lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant” (Matthew 20:25-26). We believe our elected officials are called to public service, not public tyranny, so we must protect the limits, checks, and balances of democracy and encourage humility and civility on the part of elected officials. We support democracy, not because we believe in human perfection, but because we do not. The authority of government is instituted by God to order an unredeemed society for the sake of justice and peace, but ultimate authority belongs only to God.

THEREFORE, WE REJECT any moves toward autocratic political leadership and authoritarian rule. We believe authoritarian political leadership is a theological danger that threatens democracy and the common good—and we will resist it. Disrespect for the rule of law, not recognizing the equal importance of our three branches of government, and replacing civility with dehumanizing hostility toward opponents are of great concern to us. Neglecting the ethic of public service and accountability, in favor of personal recognition and gain often characterized by offensive arrogance, are not just political issues for us. They raise deeper concerns about political idolatry, accompanied by false and unconstitutional notions of authority.

VI. WE BELIEVE Jesus when he tells us to go into all nations making disciples (Matthew 28:18). Our churches and our nations are part of an international community whose interests always surpass national boundaries. The most well-known verse in the New Testament starts with “For God so loved the world” (John 3:16). We, in turn, should love and serve the world and all its inhabitants, rather than seek first narrow, nationalistic prerogatives.

THEREFORE, WE REJECT “America first” as a theological heresy for followers of Christ. While we share a patriotic love for our country, we reject xenophobic or ethnic nationalism that places one nation over others as a political goal. We reject domination rather than stewardship of the earth’s resources, toward genuine global development that brings human flourishing for all of God’s children. Serving our own communities is essential, but the global connections between us are undeniable. Global poverty, environmental damage, violent conflict, weapons of mass destruction, and deadly diseases in some places ultimately affect all places, and we need wise political leadership to deal with each of these.

WE ARE DEEPLY CONCERNED for the soul of our nation, but also for our churches and the integrity of our faith. The present crisis calls us to go deeper—deeper into our relationship to God; deeper into our relationships with each other, especially across racial, ethnic, and national lines; deeper into our relationships with the most vulnerable, who are at greatest risk.

The church is always subject to temptations to power, to cultural conformity, and to racial, class, and gender divides, as Galatians 3:28 teaches us. But our answer is to be “in Christ,” and to “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable, and perfect.” (Romans 12:1-2)

The best response to our political, material, cultural, racial, or national idolatries is the First Commandment: “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). Jesus summarizes the Greatest Commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, your soul, and your mind. This is the first commandment. And the second is like unto it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:38). As to loving our neighbors, we would add “no exceptions.”

We commend this letter to pastors, local churches, and young people who are watching and waiting to see what the churches will say and do at such a time as this.

Our urgent need, in a time of moral and political crisis, is to recover the power of confessing our faith. Lament, repent, and then repair. If Jesus is Lord, there is always space for grace. We believe it is time to speak and to act in faith and conscience, not because of politics, but because we are disciples of Jesus Christ—to whom be all authority, honor, and glory. It is time for a fresh confession of faith. Jesus is Lord. He is the light in our darkness.

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).

 

  • Bishop Carroll A. Baltimore, President and CEO, Global Alliance Interfaith Networks
  • Rev. Dr. Peter Borgdorff, Executive Director Emeritus, Christian Reformed Church in North America
  • Dr. Amos Brown, Chair, Social Justice Commission, National Baptist Convention USA, Inc.
  • Rev. Dr. Walter Brueggemann, Professor Emeritus, Columbia Theological Seminary
  • Dr. Tony Campolo, Co-Founder, Red Letter Christians
  • Dr. Iva Carruthers, General Secretary, Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference
  • The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, Presiding Bishop and Primate, The Episcopal Church
  • Rev. Dr. James Forbes, President and Founder, Healing the Nations Foundation and Preaching Professor at Union Theological Seminary
  • Rev. Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, General Secretary Emeritus, Reformed Church in America
  • Rev. Dr. Cynthia Hale, Senior Pastor, Ray of Hope Christian Church, Decatur, GA
  • Rev. Dr. Richard Hamm, former General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
  • Rev. Dr. Joel C. Hunter, Faith Community Organizer and Chairman, Community Resource Network
  • Rev. Dr. Jo Anne Lyon, General Superintendent Emerita, The Wesleyan Church
  • Bishop Vashti McKenzie, 117th Elected and Consecrated Bishop, AME Church
  • Rev. Dr. Otis Moss, Jr., Co-Convener National African American Clergy Network
  • Dr. John Perkins, Chair Emeritus and Founding Member, Christian Community Development Association
  • Bishop Lawrence Reddick, CEO, Christian Methodist Episcopal Church
  • Fr. Richard Rohr, Founder, Center for Action and Contemplation
  • Dr. Ron Sider, President Emeritus, Evangelicals for Social Action
  • Rev. Jim Wallis, President and Founder, Sojourners
  • Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins, Director, NCC Truth and Racial Justice Initiative
  • Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner, Co-Convener, National African American Clergy Network; President, Skinner Leadership Institute
  • Bishop Will Willimon, Bishop, The United Methodist Church, retired, Professor of the Practice of Ministry, Duke Divinity School
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An Anthology on Prayer: Part One

An Anthology on Prayer Part One

by Lisa Hunt-Wotton

What is Prayer?

Does prayer work?

Over the next weeks you will hear from, poets, theologians, authors, musicians, pastors and leaders from Social Justice platforms.

These posts will be done in the form of an anthology, which is a collection of writings or poems.  In this post,  ‘An Anthology on Prayer Part One’ we will be hearing from:  Dr John Drane, Nicole Conner and Cameron Semmens.

The last two decades for me have been years of un-learning. I was raised in a pentecostal fundamentalist cult. When I left the cult in 2000 I attended the pentecostal Mega Church. During that time I studied Theology at Tabor College. One of the hardest and healthiest things I have done.

I say this because we all look at life through the prisms and perspectives.  The way we have been raised usually has a big influence upon us.  My perspective was, in the past, very myopic, narrow and mostly driven by fear. There were many rules and certainties around my faith.  I have now come out into a larger space and am certainly more reflective and open about God and His relationship with us in this world. I am less dogmatic and less certain. In fact the more I know the more I realise I don’t know.

In this season of sifting, one of the topics I have been re-visiting  is Prayer.

I am letting God out of His box now. I want to hear from a range of people who view life and faith from different angles.

Along with this season of unlearning has been a growing suspicion of leaders. I don’t think I am alone in this. I believe that generally as a society we have all felt let down by pastors, politicians, sporting heroes and civic leaders.

Who do we go to for answers when there is such a feeling of disconnection?  Who can we trust?

There are still several people on the planet that I hold in high regard and whom I trust to speak their hearts with integrity.  So I decided to enlist their help on this topic.  I contacted a dozen or so of my trusted friends, colleagues and mentors and asked them for their perspective on prayer.  They come from all walks of life.

Rev. Dr John Drane is a gift to me and I am very grateful for his input on this topic. John is a theologian who is probably best known for his two best-selling books on the Bible, Introducing the Old Testament and Introducing the New Testament.  Among many other things John is founder of the religious studies program at the University of Stirling, Scotland. He is also appointed to teach Practical Theology in the Divinity School at the University of Aberdeen. Currently a self-employed consultant working with churches of many different denominations throughout the United Kingdom as well as internationally.

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An adjunct professor in New Testament and Practical theology at Fuller Theological Seminary, California, a visiting scholar at Spurgeon’s College in London and a visiting Fellow of St John’s College, Durham. John is also an ordained minister and well-known throughout the UK and western world for his academic contributions.

If you wish to follow John you can do so on his YouTube channel John Drane

These are the two questions that I asked them all to consider: 

1:  What is Prayer?

2:  Does Prayer Work?

What is Prayer?

Prayer is an attitude or environment when we live in conscious awareness that we are surrounded by the presence of the divine in every moment of life.  Martin Luther didn’t say that prayer is work, but that work is prayer – and so is (or can be) everything else.

Sometimes that awareness of God comes unexpectedly out of the blue, at other times it’s about making space for it intentionally.  Prayer can be a sense of awe and wonder in the face of something or somebody beyond ourselves, at other times it can be words and actions.  Conversations, listening as well as speaking.

First and foremost though it’s an openness to ourselves, to others, and to God.  Jesus pretty much summed it up with talking about loving God with heart, soul, mind and strength, which is a pretty holistic vision.

Does it ‘work’?  

Depends what you mean by ‘work’.

Researchers have concluded that living in an attitude of prayerfulness can improve your health and help you live longer, and there’s evidence from the Harvard prayer project that suggests being prayed for by others can improve your chances of recovery from serious illness.

There’s a lot we don’t understand, and though prayer never seems to get us the parking spaces that others claim, we would say that yes, prayer does work – in all its many forms.

Nicole Conner

A bit from Nicole: Perhaps what you need to know about me is that I am a story-teller. I love stories. I always have. I have devoted my life to stories – as a writer and public speaker I believe stories can change the world.  Nicole brings three decades of experience in speaking and training about topics such us spirituality, liminality, social justice, volunteerism and theological perspectives.

Check out her blog:  Reflections of  a Mugwump 

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Nicole is one of my trusted and closest friends.

What is Prayer? 

My prayer journey has changed over the years – it has changed in accordance with my understanding of who God is. I can apply this to Richard Rohr’s thoughts about first and second half of life – in some way we frantically build structure and meaning in the first half – it is about ego, image and success.

As we enter the threshold or liminal space into what contains our second half we begin to deconstruct, hold paradox and mystery. God is mystery and God is love – my prayer life centres around this.

All that preamble to say that I no longer see prayer as earning some invisible brownie points with God – I believe in ritual but only because it ties into the rhythm of life. My prayer ritual is taking certain moments every day and breathing and recognising God who is all in all – it includes silence, contemplation, listening and spoken word. These rituals for me are enhanced in spaces of natural beauty – but that is not always possible depending on where I find myself throughout the day.

Does prayer work? 

It’s a great question and one that triggers me back to my frantic first half where I made all sorts of promises to people about prayer using my privilege of dominant platform voice. The question is what do we mean by ‘does prayer work’? Work what?

And let’s consider our answer as a global citizen … with thousands and thousands of desperate human prayers asking for safety, food, liberation from horrific acts of violence.

I think prayer works when we begin to stop seeing prayer as a  spiritualised form of our Christmas wish list that we were privileged to construct in our often dominant, wealthy, insular culture and context. Prayer works perhaps when we recognise our responsibility in what it means to see the ‘kingdom come’ … and this often means letting go, living sustainably, saying no, and making a rich contribution in the issues of justice.

Unknown

Cameron Semmens

Cameron Semmens is a 2 times broken-hearted, award-winning performance poet, poetry educator and book designer. He’s got 21 books to his name and 4 spoken word albums. His most recent book, ‘Get Poor Quick through Poetry – 101 super easy steps to obscurity, disappointment and straight-up cashlessness’, luckily has only sold 82 copies, so it’s keeping well within his hopes and expectations.

Some call Cameron ‘a connoisseur of fine words’; others call him ‘dad’ (specifically his two little kids); and still others call him on the phone to chat about his writing workshops, or performing, or commissioning a poem, or just being arty.

He lives amidst the foggy ferny forests of The Dandenong Ranges, and can often be found in cafés head-down, fingers-a-blur dreaming up words to move, inform and discombobulate.

He’s been drawing a lot lately… with Indian ink and a falcon feather quill. This seems to be developing into a new artistic expression, but it’s still a bit too early to call.  Listen to his podcast ‘Shards – The 1 Poem Podcast of Cameron Semmens’ and check out www.webcameron.com

Cameron never fails to bring joy and hope to my life.  He is a rare human and his view on the world is one that I cherish.

Answer 1: Like a Wave Veiled With Spray Rushing to Her Groom

Presence

is the only true

prayer.

Move

to the bloody edge of your body,

where skin becomes see-through

and only membranes of thought hold you in

– there

you have a chance of seeing

‘the other’

beyond;

– there – 

you may see

how a hand may be perfectly placed

to worship.

Lean forward

to the very edge of this moment;

the closest you can get to the future

before you become

tomorrow

(or one hundred thousand years from now)

– here – 

pressing hard against potential

with hammering hope

and storm-front love;

– here – 

you might just see things

beyond any known horizon;

and you might just

be things

you thought

un-poetry-able

and impossibly connected.

Prayer

is the only true

presence.

Answer 2 :  How to Build a Permanent Sandcastle

Prayer doesn’t work;

it isn’t off makin’ a buck;

it is always at play;

toying with our oh-so-serious priorities;

it is a sly-eyed larrikin

in the poised and pretty shop-front display

of this-season’s fashionable importances.

Listen!

Listen to the bloodied lips of a heartbreak.

Listen the shag-pile rug

frayed and flattened with our living.

Keep listening!

Don’t stop listening to all the world around you –

it is all at play;

it is all in prayer.

Like the chubby hand of a toddler

patting firm the crumbling walls of a sandcastle

with waves surging at its oyster shell gates –

prayer

is every beautiful, bumbling attempt

to ‘build up’

in the face of certain oblivion.

Play for me.

Oh God, please,

play for me!

Summary

To be honest, reading and re-reading these thoughts makes me very teary.  “Wham right between the eyes”,  I am hit with the reality of answered prayer.  These amazing friends of mine who I love and who am privelaged to do life with are answered prayer to me.

I designed this series because I was struggling with prayer, what it was and was it real.  I now feel held, blessed and a little humbled.  Thank you dear hearts.

Stand outs for me:

Prayer can be a sense of awe and wonder in the face of something or somebody beyond ourselves – John.

As I just explained,  I have recieved answered prayer in the faces of my friends. Totally unexpected. Thank you.

Let’s consider our answer as a global citizen … with thousands and thousands of desperate human prayers asking for safety, food, liberation from horrific acts of violence. – Nicole

I constantly struggle with this.  I am praying that my son suceeds in a job interview whilst somewhere in the world a child is sold into sex slavery.  Prayer is not a Christmas wish list.  Prayer changes US.  Profound

Finally

Prayer doesn’t work; it isn’t off makin’ a buck;  it is always at play.

Seriously I have read this and laughed at least 12 times.  Ahh Cam you always make me laugh with the truth.  A rare gift.  Prayer isnt off making a buck.  Lol…….. It is always at play.  Let’s not forget to play and to live in moments of mirth and wonder.

What resonated with you?

I hope you are blessed by this as much as I have been.

Stay tuned for Part Two next week. 

xxxx Lisa.

If the work here is meaningful to you, you can partner with me in a very real way through Patreon.com.

Patreon allows me to get support for the work that I do on this blog.    Patreon allows people to financially pledge to support artists, writers, musicians, and other creative people. Sunday Everyday has been on line since the first of February 2015.  Since that time I have been doing this in a volunteer capacity.  For the blog to continue I need your support.  You may want to give the amount you would spend on a coffee and muffin once a month or you may wish to pledge $50.00 a month or more.  Every bit helps.

Please help support my ministry and magnify my voice by pledging.

Thanks for considering.

Love Lisa

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Who Is the Jesus of Easter?

Who Is the Jesus of Easter? by Lisa Hunt-Wotton

I hope that you have a beautiful Easter weekend however you chose to celebrate and remember it.   I love Easter Sunday.  I love the message. I love the man – Jesus.  I don’t mind the chocolate either.

Empty grave

Who is this Jesus?

Easter is the oldest and most important festival on the Church calendar.  It is the  remembrance of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  But most of all it is about the hope that Easter brings.  The fact that Jesus conquered death by love.

This is the message of Jesus, He is alive and He is alive in me.  He brings freedom and life and joy.  He is safe and He breathes forgiveness.  He doesn’t just forgive;

HE IS forgiveness.

There is nothing to be afraid of in the risen Jesus.

We have in him the perfect icon of a God who is safe and a universe that is safe. We have a God who does not blame, does not punish, does not threaten, does not dominate. We have a God who breathes forgiveness (Rohr).

The Resurrection of Jesus tells us that there is no victory through domination. There is no such thing as triumph by force. By his life, death and resurrection Jesus stops the cycle of violence and challenges the notion of dominating power.

This is a power that seeks to change things from the top down, from the outside in. Instead, Jesus invites us to relational or spiritual power, where we are not just changed but transformed. And not transformed from the top down but from the bottom up, not from the outside in but from the inside out. Transformed into God…. (R.Rohr).

“You have to trust that inner voice to show you the way…You know that inner voice.  Only by attending constantly to the inner voice can you be converted to  a new life of freedom and joy”  (Henri Nouwen)

Meditate on these words.  Say them to yourself.  Say them out loud.

Jesus is the one who speaks lovingly ‘I will never leave you.  I am with you always’.

I will love you forever.  My love NEVER fails.

I am faithful, I am righteous.  I am just and I am truth.

Following Christ is both the safest and the most exhilarating thing that you will ever do.

He is: comfort, compassion, love, acceptance, forgiveness.

He is:  good, peace, hope joy, gentleness, freedom.

He does NOT:  reject, abuse, abandon, condemn, dominate or control.

HE IS:  gracious, kind, merciful, creative, wondrous, ingenious.

He is rest…………..

Happy in the mountains

He fights for the oppressed.  He hates injustice.

He came to set prisoners free from every trap that they have been caught in. Every addiction, every bondage, every fear and terror.  He has the power and He can free us.

He knows the beginning from the end.  His love NEVER fails.  When we fail, he lifts us up.  By HIS power we can stand.

He knows us intimately, He knows we weep and grieve and that we are frail.

My hope is in Jesus.

My trust is in Jesus

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus Christ, my righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

He is alive and He lives in me.

We see in Jesus the divine being who is also the perfect human being. Jesus comes in a human body to show us the face of God, the One who is eternally compassionate and eternally joyous, who stands with us in our sufferings and our joys.

As Christians, our vocation is to unite with both Christ crucified and Christ risen. (Rohr)

When you think on these things you can feel hope rising in your heart.

SELAH

love Lisa

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Recommended Reading:

Henri Nouwen:  The Inner Voice of Love

This is Henri Nouwen’s “secret journal.” It was  written during the most difficult period of his life, when he suddenly lost his self-esteem,  his energy to live and work, his sense of being loved, even his hope in God. Although he experienced excruciating anguish and despair, he was still able to keep a journal in which he wrote a spiritual imperative to himself each day that emerged from his conversations with friends and supporters.

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