A guest post from my brother-in-law who not only taught me as a nervous twenty-year-old bride to his little brother to add onion to tunafish and not be stingy with ice cubes. Now he's generously sharing his insight on how to enter into prayer and solitude. I'm headed out this weekend for a silent retreat and am so grateful for David's wisdom and encouragement.
THE ROAD TO EMMAUS
Reverend David Murphy
Reading and Prayer Week at Pocono Mountain Bible Camp – April 9, 2013
(originally written for his congregation.
That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. (Luke 24:13-15)One of things I like to do during my reading and prayer week is to prayer walk. The Pocono Mountains are rich with State Parks and State Forest lands. On Tuesday, I went to the Tobyhanna State Park and walked around the lake. I have done it many times and never tire of it. I never know what to expect from one prayer walk to the next. I just begin walking and trust that the Holy Spirit will speak to my mind.
It wasn’t very long when the Holy Spirit brought to mind the narrative of the two disciples
walking on the road to Emmaus when Jesus comes alongside them on the way. I found my heart truly desiring for Jesus to come alongside me on my prayer walk. But as my desire continued to grow I sensed an apprehension that Jesus might actually show up. What would I say? How would I act? What would he expect of me? I found myself in one of the most intense spiritual conflicts I can remember for quite some time.
Over the next 5 ½ miles I wrestled with my thoughts and the lingering lies of the enemy: I’m not good enough or worthy enough to warrant a walk with Jesus. Much of my prayer that morning was a desperate cry for a realization of the renewal and restoration that are mine in Christ. I am sick of sin and the constant battle that rages in my mortal body.
When I arrived back at the camp, I caught up on some of reading I begin each day with. I opened the Kindle eBook Everyday Prayers: 365 Days to a Gospel-Centered Faith by Scotty Smith and read the prayer for April 9th:
A Prayer about My Foolish, Slow Heart
And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. (Luke 24:25-27)
Gracious Jesus, of all your postresurrection appearances (1 Cor. 15:13-35), I treasure the visit you paid disheartened friends on the road to Emmaus the most (Luke 24:13-35). That you met with a shattered and shamed Peter was incredibly kind and healing. That you appeared to the apostle Paul, who in his own words was a man unworthy of even being called an apostle, marked him forever. All of us have enjoyed the fruit of that visitation through Paul’s life and writings.
But I love how you came alongside of the Emmaus men, for I am so much like them. I am a foolish, slow-ofheart man who constantly needs you to preach the gospel to my heart by the Holy Spirit. How I praise you for your tender forbearance, unlimited patience, and grace-full persistence.
As you dealt with my brothers, so deal with me. Continue to reveal yourself as the main character and hero in all the Scriptures. Don’t let me read the writings of Moses without thinking about you, Jesus – especially the law. May Moses’ words always drive me to you. For you have fulfilled the demands of the law for me, and you are now fulfilling the beauty of the law in me as the gospel changes me. I don’t want to forget that, even for a nanosecond, lest I lapse into graceless guilt or performance-based pride.
And continue to show me how you are fulfilling everything the prophets have spoken – not just the things concerning your sufferings on the cross and your resurrection from the dead but also all the promises of your present work in the world as a redeemer and restorer. May a vision of your present reign and coming kingdom give me “redemptive heartburn” like that which you ignited in the hearts of my Emmaus brothers. Continue to open the Scriptures to me, Jesus, until the day you return to finish making all things new. I pray in your holy and transforming name.
(Smith, Scotty. Everyday Prayers: 365 Days to a Gospel-Centered Faith (p. 113). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.)
I didn’t experience a physical appearance of Jesus on the road through Tobyhanna State Park. But Jesus met me just the same. And it was as real an experience that the disciples on the road to Emmaus had. My Savior and King was reassuring me, fighting right alongside me, interceding on my behalf and refuting all the lies of the enemy. He was declaring his sufficiency in all things. And I too, desire that my Savior and King Jesus will continue to open the Scriptures to me until the time of the renewal of all things.
Make it be so.
To read more journal entries from David's prayer walk and solitude retreat visit his church's website, Valleyview Alliance Church (Vestal, NY):
Press On (alternate title I might suggest: "How my 51-year-old overconfidence taught me to respect the steep incline and enjoy the view from the top.")
Two resources for prayer walks:
Prayer Walking: Praying On Site with Insight by Steve Hawthorne and Graham Kendrick
Ways to Pray - pocket-sized prayer guides help you pray for others wherever you find yourself from Waymakers (I've used the Blessings: Ways to Pray Hope booklet and recommend it highly.)
Do you have a story you'd like to share that would fit our Practice Resurrection quest to take up something new during Eastertide? Write me a note on the facebook page for This Sacramental Life. (or email me).
Also, each week during Eastertide I'm collecting your photos of practicing resurrection, taking up something new to celebrate our risen Christ who makes all things new. Share your photo with a caption in 36 words or less at the facebook page for This Sacramental Life. (See our first week here.)