The Practice: Prayer

“Of all the spiritual disciplines prayer is the most central because it ushers us into perpetual communion with the Father.” – Richard Foster

As I’ve mentioned before, the spiritual disciplines are not individual silos disconnected from each other. Rather each practice depends on and enhances the others.

As we move on from discussing the first practice of meditation and onto the second practice of prayer it’s important to remember the foundational nature of prayer. All of the inward practices of meditation, fasting, and study in one way or another rely on prayer. Without prayer, meditation is simply silence, fasting is simply hunger, and study is simply reading.

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On Prophecy

One thing that has come up a couple times as I’ve been writing about the book of Revelation and the Mark of the Beast is the idea of prophecy. In Revelation, is John not speaking prophetically if he’s using metaphor to discuss contemporary issues?

Underneath this question is an assumption about what prophecy is and how it works in the Bible. To give us an idea, let’s start with some of the claims the gospel writers make about Jesus regarding prophecy.

Matthew, more than any other gospel, relies heavily on the idea of prophecy. Each gospel was written for a specific purpose with a target audience in mind. Matthew, in particular, wrote his gospel for Jews to help them understand that Jesus was their long-awaited Messiah. This is why Matthew often refers back to Old Testament passages and claims Jesus fulfilled them.

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On Perspective

Last weekend was supposed to be a nice long weekend. My wife is a nanny and the family she nanny’s for, who happen to be friends of ours, were taking a trip out of the province from Thursday through Monday. That meant a five day weekend for us and hopefully the ability to get caught up on all the stuff that piles up in life.

The last few months we’ve gone from one event to another with seemingly no ability to play catch up. Karly hurt her back, then Sam turned one and we had a bunch of family in town, then we started sleep training, then Sam got sick, then Karly and I got sick, then we got back into sleep training. This weekend was finally going to give us the time to do all the laundry, get household chores done, organize clothes bins as we’ve switched out winter clothes for summer ones and, honestly, just find some time to relax as a family. Sunday was both Karly’s birthday and Mother’s Day, which just adds to the excitement of the weekend.

But as luck would have it both Sam and Karly got sick (again) with the stomach flu (again). While the first time a few weeks ago seemed to be the 12-hour variety, this one was the five-day type. And suddenly our long weekend, the weekend to finally catch up on life and relax turned into the kind of weekend where Sam is constantly fussy and Karly can’t get up off the couch without feeling overwhelmingly fatigued. What was supposed to be tears of laughter became tears of frustration.

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On 666 and the Mark of the Beast

On Wednesday we started talking about the book of Revelation and how it’s weird but maybe less weird than it first seems if you start to understand the context.

One of the things that always comes up when studying Revelation surrounds the number 666 otherwise known as “the mark of the beast”.

Even if you’re not overly familiar with Christianity, there’s a good chance you’ve heard someone somewhere reference the number 666 and it’s association with the forces of evil.

So what’s the deal with the number 666 and why is it called the mark of the beast?

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On the Book of Revelation

If you’ve ever read the book of Revelation at the end of the Bible you’ve probably noticed it’s… weird.

There are seals and bowls of wrath, beasts coming out of the sea and earth, a dragon, and whoever wrote this book has a real obsession with the number 12. Beyond this, there is talk of a mark of the beast that allows you to buy and sell and both Babylon and Jerusalem are heavily featured.

Some people like to say it’s a literal roadmap to how the end of the world will play out (or at least as literal as it can be when we’re talking about dragons and beasts). Others suggest it’s a metaphor for something else entirely. How should those of us living in the 21st century read this odd and archaic book? Does it have anything notable to say for us today?

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