Good morning. It is Tuesday, June 30, 2015. Last day of June. The year is half over.
Today’s word of the day, from Merriam-Webster, is disinformation. This is a noun, meaning, “false information deliberately and often covertly spread (as by the planting of rumors) in order to influence public opinion or obscure the truth.” “In 1939, a writer describing Nazi intelligence activities noted, “The mood of national suspicion prevalent during the last decade … is well illustrated by General Krivitsky’s account of the German ‘Disinformation Service,’ engaged in manufacturing fake military plans for the express purpose of having them stolen by foreign governments.” Although the Nazis were accused of using disinformation back in the 1930s, the noun and the practice are most often associated with the Soviet KGB. Many people think disinformation is a literal translation of the Russian dezinformatsiya, which means “misinformation,” a term the KGB allegedly used in the 1950s to name a department created to dispense propaganda.”
I promise you, there will never be any deliberate disinformation in this blog. :-)
Today is Meteor Watch Day. “Legend has it that if you wished upon a shooting star the wish would come true. It is believed to have originated in Greece, when a Greek astronomer Ptolemy, around AD 127-151, wrote that the Gods occasionally, out of curiosity, peer down at the Earth from between the spheres. When this happened stars sometimes slip through the gap, becoming visible as shooting stars. It was though that because the Gods were already looking at us, they would be more receptive to any wishes we made!”
Last night’s band practice was brutal, but I still loved it. I met a few more people, including one trombone player who was not there last week. We played all of the music that we might play in Friday’s concert. I say, “might play,” because the director said that he wasn’t exactly sure how much time we would have. So there might be a piece or two that gets cut. There is a wide variety of music, including standard marches, patriotic music, and show tunes. And, of course, we will play the Stars and Stripes Forever.
Tonight is Huddle night, so there won’t be any practice time, this evening. My chops held out pretty good, though for the entire two-hour practice. There are few places that need some serious work, but I don’t know if I will have a lot of time before Friday. I don’t feel too bad, though, as I have only had two rehearsals, and am still, basically sight-reading most of this music.
Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?” Let the avenging of the outpoured blood of your servants be known among the nations before our eyes!
Let the groans of the prisoners come before you; according to your great power, preserve those doomed to die!
Return sevenfold into the lap of our neighbors the taunts with which they have taunted you, O Lord!
But we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.
(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)
How, then, do we learn to pray?
While Tim Keller was being treated for thyroid cancer, he made some “practical changes” to his devotional life. These are also changes that I am looking at, but I wanted to give this book a second, more close, reading before doing so.
First, I took several months to go through the Psalms, summarizing each one. That enabled me to begin praying through the Psalms regularly, getting through all of them several times a year. The second thing I did was always to put in a time of meditation as a transitional discipline between my Bible reading and my time of prayer. Third, I did all I could to pray morning and evening rather than only in the morning. Fourth, I began praying with greater expectation.
He has a chapter, later in the book, devoted to praying the Psalms, and also recommends several other books that speak of that practice, which will come up later, as well. It took a few years to see some real fruit, after these changes, but Keller says that he found “new sweetness in Christ and new bitterness too, because I could now see my heart more clearly in the new light of vital prayer.” The two kinds of prayer that are discussed in the introduction “grew together like twin trees.” The stimulate each other. “The result was a spiritual liveliness and strength that this Christian minister, for all my preaching, had not had before.”
In spite of all of this, he says, prayer is a difficult subject about which to write. The reason, he says, is that, “before it, we feel so small and helpless.” Even the great preacher Martin Lloyd-Jones once wrote that “he had never written on prayer because of a sense of personal inadequacy in the area.”
As chapter one comes to a close, Keller says this:
Prayer is the only entryway into genuine self-knowledge. It is also the main way we experience deep change–the reordering of our loves. Prayer is how God gives us so many of the unimaginable things he has for us. Indeed, prayer makes it safe for God to give us many of the things we most desire. It is the way we know God, the way we finally treat God as God. Prayer is simply the key to everything we need to do and be in life.
We must learn to pray. We have to.
Father, I long for this deeper sense of “self-knowledge,” this experience of deep change and the “reordering of [my] loves.” At this point, I am not as much interested in the “unimaginable things” that you will give me, although that thought is certainly exciting, as I am in simply drawing closer to you. I want to know you more; I want to love you as God. I acknowledge that this is the key to everything I need to do and be in life. Teach me to pray.
I pray for this day. I am still a bit weary, so I need strength for this day. Give us smooth and safe passage to work and back today. I pray for the work day, itself, that it will also go smoothly for both Christi and me. May you give us just the grace that we need for this day alone. Give us this day our daily bread. Show us you today. I pray also that you would show yourself to Stephanie, perhaps in new ways. Draw her to you today, in prayer and meditation. May you draw Rachel and Justin closer to you today, and give strength, grace, protection, and provision to my mother. I pray that our time together this weekend will be very sweet.
Your grace is sufficient.
May we draw closer to God today, seeking that reordering of our loves in order to know him more fully.
Grace and peace, friends.