Monthly Archives: January 2022

A Surprising Outcome with the Lord’s Prayer

Does our frequent use of the Lord’s Prayer result in it becoming a rote prayer with little power? 

Before COVID, I took communion on one or two Sundays a month to residents of a local nursing home.   One of the residents on the Alzheimer’s floor (we will call her Mary Jane) has always been eager to receive communion, but on this occasion became quite agitated and even accused me of wanting to do her harm.  I was shocked as was her attendant, who tried to calm and assure her that everything was fine.  She would have none of it, and I retreated to call on other residents.   

The next time I returned to the home, I found Mary Jane just finishing her breakfast and I asked if she wanted to receive communion.  She did not respond.  I knelt down beside her chair and asked if she would like to say the Lord’s Prayer.   I started to say it slowly, “Our Father who art in heaven…”  She quietly joined in, “Hallowed be thy name.”  As we continued, she pronounced each word in a slow deliberate fashion, “Thy – kingdom – come, thy – will – be – done, on – earth – as – it – is – in – heaven.”  She grew more emphatic, “Give – us – this- day – our – daily – bread, – and – forgive – us – our – trespasses – as – we – forgive – those – who – trespass – against – us.”  With a smile on her face and a look of accomplishment, we continued, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” 

I gave her communion, and then to my surprise, she said, “I love you.”  I responded, “I love you, too, Mary Jane.”  What a contrast to my prior visit! 

In reciting the Lord’s Prayer, Mary Jane may have been recalling a prior time in her relationship with God — perhaps in church, maybe a personal prayer or a family prayer time.  We can only speculate what she may have been thinking, but it brought her a sense of joy and peace.  

We should not underestimate the power of this prayer which Jesus used to teach his disciples how to pray.  Its proclamation of the holiness and omnipotence of God, its petitions that God’s will to be done on this earth, that our daily needs be provided, that our sins be forgiven as we forgive others, and that we be protected from temptation and evil are a profound and eloquent summation of what counts most in life. 

Why should we be surprised that this prayer, testifying to the kingdom, glory and power of God, awakens a soul in the shadow of Alzheimer’s?

A good exercise for us might be to say the Lord’s Prayer very slowly as Mary Jane did, hanging on each word, and meditating on each phrase. 


“Woe to you who are complacent in Zion.” (Amos 6:1) 

During the middle of the eighth century before Christ, the prophet, Amos, was decrying those in Israel who were accumulating wealth and neglecting the poor. 

Complacency is ruinous to almost any endeavor of life – athletics, parenting, doing your job well, and living out our Christian faith.  A few years ago I read a book entitled Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis, describing her experience of going on a mission trip to Uganda over Christmas break of her senior year in high school and how it led her into full time ministry to care for and educate the poorest children of Uganda.  

The book describes multiple stories reflecting a special God-inspired love she acquired for children who live in houses of sticks, stones and mud, and sleep on hard dirt floors surrounded by filth and disease.  After returning to Uganda instead of going on to college as her parents desired, her reaction was:

“In my mind, these people had every reason to be despondent and downcast, but were the most joyful human beings I could imagine.  I learned so much from them as they made my frustrations seem small and petty and taught me just to rejoice in the simple pleasures God surrounded me with.  Once I could do this, I embraced extreme exhilaration; I felt closer to God, to myself and the people, and more alive than ever before.”

Katy is the exact opposite of being complacent.  She is full of passion for the Lord Jesus Christ, and she is bringing his presence to hundreds of children in Uganda, thirteen of whom she has since adopted as a single mother.

Like Katie, all of us who have been baptized have God dwelling within us.  Do we let his presence and love be manifested through us to the people and circumstances in our lives, or do we bury his presence through our complacency?  I wish I could say that I always embrace the same level of passion for the Lord’s call on my life as Katie’s, but I struggle with the distractions of my comfortable life.

We must remember the words of Jesus to the church of Laodicea, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot.  I wish you were either one or the other!  So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” (Rev. 3:15)

Fortunately, through my affiliation with Christians in Commerce, I have been able to support in an indirect way that the people of Uganda hear about Jesus Christ, and to assist with their need for clean water, food and education.   But we don’t need to go to Africa to bring God’s presence to the people in our lives including our families, work colleagues, friends and strangers. 

Am I complacent in living out my Christian faith with the people and circumstances in my life?

Battling Temptations

“Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil.”  (Luke 4:1- 2)

If Jesus, who shared our humanity, needed the Holy Spirit to resist the temptations of the devil, how much more do we?  Certainly, our fallen humanity makes us subject to all kinds of temptations.  The list is lengthy.  St. Paul describes, “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies and the like.” (Galatians 5:19-21)

Other sins are more subtle, such as checking our faith at the door of our workplace, not taking time to listen to someone who is hurting, or failing to be kind and respectful in our interactions with others.  These sins of omission can be just as destructive to others and us as the more obvious sins of commission.

There was a time in my life when I let my work and career take precedence over my wife and family, but fortunately, I was invited by a priest and a group of nuns from Scarsdale, New York to be prayed with for the release of the power of the Holy Spirit.  I will never forget the reassuring words of God’s love and forgiveness from Sister Pauline, one of the nuns.  Experiencing the presence of the Holy Spirit in a more personal and real way opened my eyes to both the sins of commission and omission.  It changed the course of my life.

We all have different propensities to sin, but Jesus came to forgive and free us from our sins and enable us through the power of the Holy Spirit to resist temptations.  I can personally testify that Jesus can set you free of a nagging, persistent sin.  Ask Jesus with all your heart to take a sin from you, and he will do so!

The Holy Spirit gave me an entirely new perspective on how God was calling me to love and serve him through my family, work, and ministry.  Experiencing the fullness and presence of the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential to resisting the devil’s many temptations.   

Have you asked God to fill you with the Holy Spirit to help you resist sin?

Encouraging One Another

“Encourage one another daily, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (Hebrews 3:13) 

The Gospel of John explains what “sin’s deceitfulness” means when it tells us that the devil “is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44His most prevalent lies are that we are not worthy, that we are not loved or appreciated, that what we do doesn’t matter, and that God does not really care about us or our lives.

These lies seek to oppress us.  They cause us to forget that we are God’s special creation, made in his image and likeness, with the important task of taking care of the garden of his creation and establishing his kingdom on this earth.  These lies can be disabling.  They derail us from the reason for our being. They prevent us from carrying out the work God has in mind for only us to do in the context of the people and circumstances of our lives.

The antidote for these lies is encouragement.  Psalm 10:17 says God encourages the afflicted.  We are his agents for encouragement.  It is an act of love.  One of the ways God shows his love for us is through the encouragement of one another.

When I think of encouragement, I think of my wife who constantly encourages our adult daughter, Emily, who has Down syndrome.  Up until last year Emily worked at a bakery and catering business five days a week for twelve years.  The bakery employed more than thirty people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  In March of 2020, the bakery suspended operations due to COVID.  For a variety of reasons the bakery later closed its business permanently. 

Because of the continued presence of COVID and the general lack of employment for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, we have not been able to find suitable work for Emily.  Needless to say, she misses the routine of her work, getting out of the house, and seeing her many friends there each day. 

My wife constantly encourages Emily by getting her to help with the daily chores of making the beds, folding clothes, vacuuming, and other housework.  She develops routines for Emily to help with making her lunch and snacks, going for walks, arranging for former high school friends to come and visit, and generally encouraging her to be the joyful person she has always been — upbeat in spite of not having the work routine she previously enjoyed so much. 

Is there someone in your life who needs encouragement?