On The Journey, Judy Bowman

“The risk of prayer”

I’ve been blessed with a very good friend whom I love dearly and who never fails to build up my faith and teach me how to more fully follow Jesus Christ. She’s a wife, a mother, and a grandmother who works full-time and volunteers at three different charities. Somehow she also finds time to be a great cook, a talented painter, and her house looks like something out of “Architectural Digest.” She kind of makes me sick—-but in a good way. Being around her calls me to do greater things. She lifts my heart and spirit in so many ways. This woman’s whole life is a prayer to God. And that’s her dearest example for me. Her life is so full of good fruit because her heart is always seeking the Lord.

Over the years, I’ve learned about her prayer life by watching her live it. She doesn’t particularly enjoy talking about prayer, she’d rather just pray. But I think we all need to know more about prayer, so with her blessing, I’m sharing some of what she’s taught me. Learning to pray is like beginning any relationship. It develops over time and deepens through growing intimacy. There are times when it seems no one is listening to you, but this is a deception. Our Lord is always there. Are you?

Begin the day with prayer. Catholics pray a “Morning Offering” in which we give thanks and offer our day to God, in our words, our thoughts, and our actions. We beg Him to do His will through us. My friend finds ways to “pray without ceasing” throughout her day. These ways are not new prayers, with many of her favorites well-known to most Catholics. She says she’s a “dabbler” and doesn’t pray the same way each day. Her secret is to keep at it.

Just pray. But what does that mean? It means opening your heart and mind to God. It means seeking Him out and inviting Him to breathe His Spirit into you and to know you. It’s an active reaching out to Him. And it’s a quiet and receptive listening to His leading you into a deeper and more intimate relationship with Him. Praying is loving the Lord with your thoughts and emotions as well as your intellect and your will. It’s a process of surrender and submission in which we discover our purpose in life. Prayer is building a relationship, but not like a relationship with another human being. People can disappoint us. People can betray and deceive us. Building an earthly relationship contains within it a seed of doubt. That’s why we treasure our lasting friendships so much. True friends are priceless. But a relationship with the Lord is built upon the rock of Truth. He will never disappoint us. He cannot betray our trust. With God, there is no doubt of His love.

The only risk in our relationship with God is that He will transform us into the person He created us to be. We risk being truly and honestly and completely known by someone, and still loved by them. We risk having to change, to conform our will and our actions to that of our Blessed Savior. And there will be pain in that changing.

Ultimately, when we love God we risk giving ourselves away. Loving God makes it hard to walk by a hungry person. It makes it hard to ignore a homeless family standing on the side of the road. Love makes it hard to keep ourselves safely self-involved. This explains why my friend spends her life away in the love and service of others. And how her ceaseless praying is at the center of all that humility and sacrifice. The more she prays, the more she loves, and the more she has to share with others.

So, pray. And ask others to pray for you. Ask the Saints to pray for you. Ask the Blessed Mother to pray for you. Read the Gospels. Choose a chapter and read one every day. Ask God to reveal Himself to you in that chapter. Pray your way through the Psalms. These are the prayers that Jesus prayed, after all. Pray the Angelus at noon each day. When you get ready for bed, review the day you’ve had and see those things you could have done differently, and with more love. Go to confession. Spend time in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Take the risk to give your heart to the Lord in prayer.

“The happiness which God designs for His higher creatures is the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other in an ecstasy of love.” — C.S. Lewis

Glenda Smiley, Pleasant Valley Baptist Church

Sunday, May 17, Pleasant Valley Baptist met together to worship the Lord. Pastor Flood brought a wonderful message from Hebrews 6:16-20. In these days, when everything is uncertain and lacking security, this message was spiritual food for the soul. It was encouraging and uplifting. You would be blessed by listening either on Facebook or YouTube.

Pleasant Valley Baptist is open for worship. Members and guest alike are invited to join us every Sunday morning at 11 a.m. to hear the Word of God. For the present, all additional services and events are suspended. Church is open for attendance Sunday mornings only. All other services will be virtual only.

The actual morning service and worship is with many safety precautions in place to protect against the spread of the COVID-19 virus. While you may be fine and seemingly asymptomatic, your adherence protects those who are more vulnerable to the seriousness of the virus. God’s Word teaches us to prefer others above ourselves. Following are recommended guidelines for church services which are in effect at all services held at PVBC:

1. There will be no Sunday School.

2. All songs will be sung from the auditorium. We will have special singing that will be arranged before the service so everyone is ready and sanitation of mics and pulpit can be obtained.

3. Every other pew will be blocked off so that we can maintain 6 feet between people. This would mean you may not be able to sit in your normal pew.

4. There will be a station for personal protective equipment at the front door and back door. Upon arriving, you must use hand sanitizer that will be available and obtain a face mask to be worn until you have returned to your car. The face mask is to protect others from being exposed. You may not be concerned about yourself, but please be concerned about others.

5. Upon arriving, go directly to your seat and sit spacing yourself at a minimum of 6 feet from anyone you do not cohabitate with.

6, At the end of the service, you will be dismissed by pews. As your pew is dismissed, please exit the church and go directly to your car.

7. We will not be passing an offering plate during the service. The plate will be placed on the “In Remembrance of Me” table. We encourage on line giving during this time so the handling of money and checks is lessened. If this is not possible, please feel free to utilize these plates. There will be time given to give your offering.

8. There will be no bulletins during this time. This is in effort to keep multiple people coming in contact during this time.

9. The nursery will remain closed.

10. Do not attend if you are not feeling well, have a fever, or have had direct contact with someone who likely has or confirmed to have COVID-19. Medically fragile and elderly should continue to shelter in place and utilize remote services instead of in-person service.

We encourage worshipping together, but understand some at high risk may still have reservations concerning attending in person.

Much to pray for and about. Remember our country, our leaders, our citizens. Remember those among us who are sick, alone, or grieving. Special requests are Dianne Hullender , Debbie and Brian O’Neill, Betty Pitts, Pastor Flood’s mother, the Armstrongs, John Bryson’s brother in law, Dot McAllister, protection for all those over 65 with underlying health conditions, and for our pastor and his family. Pray for our churches, missionaries, and evangelists.

Pleasant Valley Baptist continues to livestream FB morning services 11 a.m., evening 6 p.m., and Wednesday Bible study. Be sure to attend, if possible, but view our services on Facebook livestream for encouragement from God’s Word. Until we are all come together in God’s house, be sure to worship with us via technology.

We look forward to seeing you in God’s house Sunday mornings at 11 a.m.

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