The Absence of God

Dr. Tom Pace, Dr. Tom Pace lll, Senior Pastor St. Lukes UMC, Sr Pastor St Lukes

A PERSONAL PRAYER

God,

Are you there? Do you even hear these prayers that I pour out so diligently? I am told you know my thoughts whether I pray them or not, so there is no need to hide it from you. I sometimes wonder if it matters at all. The Psalmist cries out “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” (Psalm 13:1) Even Jesus felt forsaken on the cross. 

There are days I think I have made you so mad with my hypocrisy that, like the vision of Ezekiel, you just ride your chariot right out of the temple and out of my life. Perhaps you have decided that since I don’t listen and respond in obedience, there is no use whispering in my ear. 

I have had moments in which my prayer is that of Mother Teresa:

In the darkness . . . Lord, my God, who am I that you should forsake me? The child of your love — and now become as the most hated one. The one — you have thrown away as unwanted — unloved. I call, I cling, I want, and there is no one to answer . . . Where I try to raise my thoughts to heaven, there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives and hurt my very soul. Love — the word — it brings nothing. I am told God lives in me — and yet the reality of darkness and coldness and emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul. (Prayed with her spiritual director in 1957)

God, I thank you that I have been through such valleys, pits in which you seem to be so absent, and I always make it out on the other side. Yesterday’s valleys remind me that the valleys don’t last forever. The psalm of Jesus on the cross, “My God, why have you forsaken me” doesn’t end that way. I am grateful I am always able, finally, to find your face, and join with the end of Jesus’ psalm: The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the Lord! May your hearts live forever!

Lord of love, I pray for all those who find you absent, that in their seeking, they would discover your presence in a real and powerful way again. Do not desert us, God, for you are the hope of the world.

In the name of the one who came to be among us, Jesus the Christ, I pray.

Amen.

SOME THOUGHTS TO SHARE

New Sermon Series and Study: These Bones Shall Live!

Our Lenten sermon series and study this year is based on the book of Ezekiel. Have you experienced times when it seems God has abandoned you? This week, Rev. Eric Huffman will preach from Ezekiel 9 and 10, when the glory of the Lord leaves the temple because of the faithlessness of the Israelites. 

Along with the sermon series, our Scripture + Shared Bible study will also focus on this prophet. The video lessons are team taught by Eric Huffman and me. You can do them alone on your Scripture + Shared app, or sign up for one of our Lenten Living in Faith Together (LIFT) groups here.

Lenten Opportunities

We have a number of opportunities you may want to be a part of for Lent and Easter this year. You can find it on the events tab of St. Luke’s new app (search St Lukes UMC Houston) or online at https://www.stlukesmethodist.org/easter/. You might check out the Lenten Path on the south lawn of the church at the purple bell banners on the lampposts. Our Easter Offering this year is Plant With Purpose, an organization that is doing some really cool things to fight poverty and empower people to provide for themselves around the world. Check it out here.

PRAYER CALENDAR

Sunday, February 25

Lord, you sent your Son to bring light into our world of darkness so that we may have eternal life. Help us to follow Jesus with our whole heart so that we may live and love like he did. And, O Lord, give us the courage to share your Good News with others. Amen.

Monday, February 26

Dear God, we pray for the people who are overwhelmed by the daily tasks of life. Be with them and give them rest from their burdens. Amen.

Tuesday, February 27

God, I pray for those whose jobs are in jeopardy and who are worried about tomorrow. May they find their self-worth in you and be confident that you will not leave or forsake them. Amen.

Wednesday, February 28

Heavenly Father, in the beginning you created the world with your Word. You demonstrated how powerful the Word is. Help us to remember that our words have power, too. Let us use our words to build each other up, to share your love in the world, to show the world what is right and good, to speak the truth with love and grace, to make faithful commitments, to admit when we are wrong, to ask for forgiveness, and to point the world back to you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Thursday, March 1

God our Father, Thank you for all that you give us every day. Thank you that we may communicate our most intimate wants and needs to you at any time, in any place. We pray that we may be more like your Son, our savior, Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen. -Prayer by Frank Eggleston

Friday, March 2

Kind Heavenly Father, Thank you so much for this beautiful day and all the days that you have given us. Thank you for our many blessings and for your strength, grace, and love. Thank you for your majesty and mercy, but most of all, for your son, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen.

Saturday, March 3

Dear Father, Thank you for the many blessings we have – eyes to see your wonders, hearts to feel your love, hands to serve your kingdom. Let us keep our faith in our feet and when we are moved by the Spirit, may we use them to do your work in Jesus’ name. Amen. -Prayer by Barbi Francis

 

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2018-02-23T09:08:15-06:00 February 23rd, 2018|All blogs, Inside-Out with Dr. Tom Pace|0 Comments

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