Praying Scripture

—Carol J. H. Kobulnicky

I first encountered the idea of praying Scripture over 20 years ago when I picked up a copy of Kenneth Boa’s 1997 book: Face to Face: Praying the Scriptures for Intimate Worship.  At the time, my only experience with the beauty and power of praying Scripture was through formal church liturgy—something that I found can become rote and have less meaning if one is not intentional.  Because of the authors’ rewriting and positioning of Scripture as prayers (he follows the format and basic content of the Lord’s Prayer through much of it), I realized how easily I could open my copy of Scripture and simply, but powerfully, pray it back to God.

The other day I took some unstructured time to pray.  I didn’t know what I was going to pray, but I felt called to set more time aside and I brought my Bible.  As I waited on God, I found myself reciting a memorized verse from Psalms.  It was simply: “Oh Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (Ps 8:1).  I opened my Bible and began to speak the words of the Psalm aloud.  I then prayed them back (aloud) to God and found my heart worshipping Him who set His “glory above the heavens”. 

I soaked in the words—familiar words that I’ve read many times before.  But, as we know, the Word is living and active.  It spoke to me in new ways that day.  Declaring the truth that God has ordained praise “from the lips of children and infants” (v. 2), moved me to pray for the Emmaus Kids’ Klubhouse. Acknowledging that God, in His glory and majesty, has crowned us with glory and honor, I remembered the verse in Psalm 103 that states “He has crowned us with love and compassion.”  I found myself talking to God about what His Word said. The slow meandering journey through Scripture took me to Colossians 1:15-20 where I declared aloud the supremacy of Jesus Christ, and then Isaiah 61 where I was reminded of Jesus’ reading the first couple of verses in his synagogue, declaring that the prophecy was fulfilled that day (Luke 4).

When I set aside time to be with God, I don’t always take so much unstructured time to allow myself to be led by the Holy Spirit through His Word.  But, when I do, I am incredibly blessed.  The time spent was time in prayer AND worship.  The two are hard to separate when you pray the Scriptures, and of course, why would we want to?  

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your Name!  Thank you for ordaining praise from the lips of children!  Help us to never be a stumbling block to their growing faith in You.  Thank you for crowning your people with glory and honor, love and compassion!  Help us to lives of obedience, and to stand in awe of you, so as to display Your splendor.  Dear Lord, help us to realize more and more how blessed we are when we set aside time with You.  Holy Spirit, lead us as we pray Your Word back to You—declaring truth, seeking Your comfort, learning more about Your character and who You desire for us to be.  Amen.

Contact the Rhythms of Grace Intercessory Prayer Team: rhythmsofgrace721@gmail.com

Does Prayer Really Matter?

Gina writing…2-1-2021

I was going in a different direction with this week’s blog, but yesterday as I was doing my morning prayer time, I was struck with the idea, “Does Prayer Really Matter?” As I look at scripture, I find that prayer seemed to matter very much to the early church:

Acts 1:14 “They all joined together constantly in prayer.”

Acts 3:1 “Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer.”

Acts 4:31 “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken.”

Acts 6:4 “And (we) will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.

Acts 10:9 “Peter went up on the roof to pray.”

Here is a more recent story about how prayer really did matter and made a difference:

Jeremiah Lamphier began a noonday prayer meeting for laymen in downtown New York City on September 23, 1857. He sat alone for the first twenty-five minutes, but by 12:30 there were six men present. The following week twenty men attended. Within six months, more than ten thousand businessmen were attending.

The Holy Spirit began to call people to pray. Many people were converted in the prayer meetings, and others found victory in their walk with God. It has been estimated that in America, “In just two years, over a million converts were added to the churches of all denominations. Over a million converts were added to the churches of Great Britain,” God wanted to bless His church, and the wind of the Spirit blew across the hearts of the people of God, calling them to prayer.

-Adapted from The Prayer FactorAdventures with a God Who Hears and Answers by Sammy Tippit. 

My prayer this week is that Emmaus Road Community Church will truly become a “prayer-driven” church. We are sensing a move of God taking us there! Let’s keep moving with Him!

Prayer: Lord, we see that prayer really does matter for Your Kingdom affairs in the earth. Please pour out Your Spirit upon Emmaus Road Community Church and make us the prayer-driven church that You desire. Prayer matters to You, so help it to really matter to us! In Jesus’ Name, the NAME ABOVE EVERY NAME, we ask. AMEN!

contact the Rhythms of Grace team: rhythmsofgrace721@gmail.com

Reflecting on Laments

By Carol J. H. Kobulnicky

I spend quite a bit of time in Psalms.  God uses that book in particular to remind me of God’s character as well as how I am not alone in what I experience in this broken world.  That book contains a fair number of laments in which the psalmist cries out to God for Him to act.  (See also Lamentations of course.)

Included in Psalms are statements that are untrue of God as well as questioning of God’s actions and motives.  On the surface, this could seem heretical, but the psalmist does not make these statements or ask these questions in a vacuum.  They are made within the context of the entire psalm, and in some cases, within the context of multiple psalms.  We, of course, can read them within the context of the Bible in its entirety.  Desperate exclamations and questioning is juxtaposed with reflection upon who God really is: just, compassionate, and able.  The questioning of God’s true character and action is intense.  An example is found in Psalm 77:7-9, where it is written:

“Will the Lord reject forever and never again show favor? 

Has his faithful love ceased forever? 

Is his promise at an end for all generations?

Has God forgotten to be gracious?

Has he in anger withheld his compassion?”

The psalmist does not leave it there.  He goes on to intentionally remember the deeds of the Lord that show Him to be faithful.  The psalmist chooses to meditate on all of God’s mighty works (v. 12).  He professes God’s holiness (v. 13), acknowledges His role as redeemer (v. 15), declares His absolute power over the earth (v. 16-18) and reassures himself and us that God is leading us in this world even when we cannot see Him (v. 19).  

When we find ourselves grieving this broken world, we may need to lament and cry out to God.  In the height of great emotions, we may ask or say some pretty heretical things, but I’m convinced God understands. One writer suggests, “God welcomes our lament to help us hold to him. He knows that our tendency is either to pretend everything is okay (while we suffocate on the inside), or walk away from God, believing he doesn’t care.”  Indeed, lamenting “invite(s) God into our pain, so that we can know his comfort” (Risner, VR. Laments Help Us Hold Onto Him, Desiring God article, Nov 2, 2016; URL: https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/lament-helps-us-hold-on-to-him).

We need to follow up any lament (spoken or unspoken) with remembering God’s faithfulness, holiness, mercy and power.  We are not limited to the scriptures to see it.  We can look at all of the ways God has provided for us as individuals, our families, our communities, and yes, our nation.  

Lord, we are struggling with the brokenness of this world.  There is so much pain and hurting, and so much that can unsettle us.  We sometimes ask, “Where are you?”  Yet we know You promised to never leave us or forsake us.  We must be intentional to remember Your goodness, faithfulness, mercy and power!  You are the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  You are our Good Shepherd, You lead us to green pastures, beside quiet waters.  Restore us, O Lord. In Your mercy, Amen.

A Great Word of Encouragement from our Christian Astronomer, Chip Kobulnicky

Gina writing…1/17/2021

I don’t want to say too much because I feel that Chip Kobulnicky expresses things so well in this brief video. I hope you’ll take a moment to watch (3 minutes, 38 seconds in length):

I love hearing the perspective of a Christian scientist. I pray you will take these words to heart!

Prayer: Dear Lord, help us to truly be inspired by what Chip shared. Help us to fill our lives with more life-giving activities and fewer world-driven activities. Inspire us to take prayer everywhere! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

This week’s prayer point: Prayer is a pathway to joy because it involves us in a love relationship with God. ~Alvin Vandergriend

God is Always At Work

To listen to the podcast, click here!

Gina writing…1/10/2021

Philippians 1:6

being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

This past week as I was adding things to my “to do” list, I realized again that the list never comes to an end. There is always something to add when I complete a task. That thought led to me to think about the work that God is doing in those who have placed their faith in His Son, Jesus. His work does not end when we accept His gift. It only just begins there and will continue in us until we see Him in glory.

The same is true in our prayer life. God is working always to deepen the communion that we have with Him through prayer. Look at the example of the disciples in Luke 11:1-3: (emphasis mine)

One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “LORD, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”

I can imagine as the disciples were watching Jesus’ pray, they realized that they had much to learn and that He had much to teach. Have you asked Jesus to teach you to pray lately? You can ask Him that many times over and still never know all there is to know. My prayer life has changed radically over the years as the Holy Spirit has caused me to mature. I hope that you won’t give up on prayer because you think that you aren’t doing it correctly. Our Heavenly Father loves to hear from us and He is always at work to help us to become the disciples that He needs to fulfill His Kingdom plan.

Prayer: Lord, as we seek You, we ask You to teach us to pray! Teach our Church community to pray and to seek You in all things. We repent for times when we have been very self-reliant and have not asked for Your wisdom and provision. Forgive us, Lord and create a deep desire in our hearts, by Your Holy Spirit, to have greater communion with You. Thank You, Lord, for Your continuing work in our lives. In Jesus’ Name we pray, Amen.

Prayer Point:

Faith in a prayer-hearing God will make a prayer-loving Christian. ~Andrew Murray

The Story of Rhythms of Grace

Listen to this as a podcast

Contact us: rhythmsofgrace721@gmail.com

Gina writing…December 28, 2020

Some of you may be wondering about our new intercessory prayer ministry at Emmaus Road Community Church. I thought it would be a good idea to tell you the “back story” so that you can have a better understanding.

About 6 months ago, I had a night dream that I actually remembered the next morning. I tell you this because it is a rarity in my life to actually remember my night dreams. In the dream, God was speaking to me and He kept saying, “Rhythms of Grace.” I would ask Him, “What is that?” His reply repeatedly throughout the dream was, “It is the intercessory prayer ministry to pray for Emmaus, the Church and the world.”

I shared my dream with Carol Kobulnicky and she was inspired to look for the words “rhythms of grace” in the scriptures. She found these words in the Message version of Matthew 11:28-30:

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (emphasis mine)

I had laid aside the dream for a period of time, when I had another dream a few weeks ago. In the dream, I felt the church was being attacked by our enemy, satan. It was after that dream that I felt that I needed to increase my prayer for the church. Several others who were part of the recent “Love to Pray” class have now joined me in launching a more intentional prayer ministry for our church. Please be aware that we already have a prayer group that prays for needs that are presented. That ministry will continue. What distinguishes the Rhythms of Grace ministry is that we will be praying Kingdom prayers for our church, community and world.

I recently asked Blake Knadler to design our logo. (see above) He asked me what my vision was and I shared what I have felt about the ministry. You will see a small silhouette of a dancing couple in the logo. You may notice that the man is wearing a crown. When Blake asked me what I was perceiving, I said, “I see a heavenly waltz. Jesus is dancing with the Bride.”

Only God knows where He will lead this new ministry in the days ahead. I’m excited to see all He has in store for Emmaus and for the Church worldwide. Be watching for future updates and prayer prompts through our church newsletter and social media. If you are interested in learning more about the ministry of intercession, please reach out to me. When I was a young Christian and the Lord was calling me as intercessor, I had wonderful mentors that helped me along the way. If you feel called as an intercessor, I’d love to help you!

And now…would you take a moment and agree with me in prayer?

Prayer: Lord, help us to trust You as we step out into the new Rhythms of Grace Intercessory Prayer ministry. We want our hearts to be aligned with Your desires, so please lead us by Your Spirit in the days ahead. Please call forth more intercessors to pray for Your Kingdom to come and Your will to be done at Emmaus and throughout Your world. Show us how to disciple others in this important ministry. May Emmaus Road Community Church truly become a “house of prayer for all nations.” (Isaiah 56:7) Thank You for the privelege of co-laboring with You in Your Kingdom work. To God be the glory for great things You have done! In the wonderful Name of Jesus we ask. Amen!