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*'Debbie is away completing her schooling and we wish her all the best!  In her absence, we are fortunate to be welcoming some guest speakers. 

Meditation: “Opportunity: Freind or Foe?" by Danielle Belanger

 

        We have all heard the vast array of anagrams when it comes to “how to be a better Christian”.

FROG - Fully Rely On God. 

PUSH- Pray Until Something Happens,

EGO - Easing God Out and of course who could ever forget the number one saying:

WWJD - What Would Jesus Do?

 

            But what if all of that was nothing more than a silly way of trying to be more connected with God? The one that really failed to resonate with me growing up was PUSH - Pray Until Something Happens. Well…Why in the world would I do that? What was I going to get out of it? Been there….Done that….Tried it….Nothing’s changed. It was the one acronym that I didn’t really fully understand. I could comprehend fully relying on God and I can better today comprehend Easing God Out. I am not even going to bother answering the question What Would Jesus Do, because who really knows anyway?

 

            But Prayer to me didn’t really seem to be anything more than a fancy way of communicating with the ever divine presence, spirit creator. Prayer was something that, in my youth, was only ever present at my maternal grandparent’s dining room table, at church on Sunday mornings and during the morning rituals at my Catholic Highschool. In my time spent with Chaverim, an amazingly fun Christian Youth Band, we would have annual retreats at the beginning of the year with lots of devotional group time that touched on topics that would be of interest to a teenager just trying to keep it all together. But what in the world was Prayer truly all about? This question was just not being answered for me and I am not even sure I would be able

to answer it today, but here we are and I am going to give it a try.

 

I would like you to take a moment and jot down or think about your top 5 prayer topics.

            Now I don’t have to be a genius or a psychic to know what the majority of you likely wrote down or thought of. But I am going to give it a go anyway….1. Good Health 2. Money 3. Healing 4. Family and Friends and 5. Answers when you don’t know what to do. I have one question for you now. How is that working out for you? Have your prayers all been answered? Has everyone been healed? Do you have millions of dollars, because if God truly answered that one I would be a billionaire!

 

            First Thessalonians 5:17 says “pray continuously”. Now I don’t know about you but that is a tall order. Even if we were to pray all the time, what are the expectations that follow? In our Gospel reading this morning, Jesus talks to us about where and how to pray. On one hand we are told to pray without ceasing and then Jesus tells us to pray in a place of silence and solitude. The confusion continues. What happens after we spend that time in prayer? What we do after the prayer have been sent via express mail? What are we hoping will happen?

 

            Opportunity is an interesting concept because it truly is a subjective concept. What you may consider to be an opportunity may just be a normal everyday endeavour for someone else. Genesis is Hebrew for “new beginnings” and I certainly don’t think it is any coincidence that Genesis is the first book of the bible. But if we really look at the book of Genesis it is filled with stories and parables of opportunity. Supposedly written by Moses, whom was not even alive when any of these events took place, the book documents apparent happenings of so many stories that we can resonate with and know well. Adam and Eve were given the opportunity to show Will Power and Obedience, Abraham and Sarah were given the opportunity to show Trust and Patience, and Joseph was given the opportunity to be a Leader in times of trial and betrayal.

 

            Every single one of these individuals were met with hardships and challenges that yielded new beginnings! Opportunities that would not have existed if they had not of opened their mind, body and spirit to hear what God was telling them. We are invited by God to participate in our own miracles and our own life. Do we look at things as boundaries or are we invited to live a life that is conducive with God? One of my all time favourite artists, Garth Brooks’ song “Unanswered Prayers” is a statement that outlines that prayers do not always have to be answered in the way we want them to be and that was the intention.

 

            So, the original question I posed this morning was “what happens after we pray?”. We all know how to pray, and whether we are following Thessalonians direction of “pray continuously” or Jesus’ direction of “praying in a quiet place of solitude” or even a mixture of both we still need to consider what we could be doing once that prayer is over.

 

            God does not just hand out answers to prayer. We are not puppets of a puppeteer with our every move pre-planned and pre-set up so that we have no free will. Our ability to make our own free choice is what makes our lives full of opportunities to explore and be who God wanted us to be. When raising our own children, or supporting others with children of their own, we want to see them grow up to be successful, loving, and exploratory human beings with endless boundaries of existence. Being children of God is no different. God wants us to make our own choices. God wants us to rely on the direction and opportunities that are provided to us through the universal space of the divine existence. But, if we are not paying any attention than what is the point of it all? Why bother praying about it in the first place if we are not going to even take the time to pay attention to the opportunities that are then brought forward into our lives after we pray about it?

 

            It’s like the guy standing on his roof in the middle of the flooding waters right? For those who may not have heard it, I will quickly recap for you: A fellow was stuck on his rooftop in a flood. He was praying to God for help. Soon a man in a rowboat came by and the fellow shouted to the man on the roof, “Jump in, I can save you.” The stranded fellow shouted back, “No, it’s OK, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me.” So the rowboat went on. Then a motorboat came by. “The fellow in the motorboat shouted, “Jump in, I can save you.” To this the stranded man said, “No thanks, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me. I have faith.” So the motorboat went on. Then a helicopter came by and the pilot shouted down, “Grab this rope and I will lift you to safety.” To this the stranded man again replied, “No thanks, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me. I have faith.” So the helicopter reluctantly flew away. Soon the water rose above the rooftop and the man drowned. He went to Heaven. He finally got his chance to discuss this whole situation with God, at which point he exclaimed, “I had faith in you but you didn’t save me, you let me drown. I don’t understand why!” To this God replied, “I sent you a rowboat and a motorboat and a helicopter, what more did you expect?

 

            Before my family ever came along, my ancestor Robert Breadner, born in 1796, immigrated to Canada from Ireland, specifically to Temple Hill, which is a small community over in the Rocklyn area of the Beaver Valley. He brought with him his wife, Eliza, and their six children. They seized a new opportunity. Unfortunately, he was killed by a falling tree leaving Eliza alone to raise their six children, but it was the beginning of our family’s Canadian opportunities. If you want to read the whole story, it is my mother’s book “In Stillness.”

 

            When I was growing up, my life was interesting, which is nothing out of the ordinary. I lived with my mother full time and would see my dad on occasion. As I grew into my teenage years, and really started to come into my own, there were many aspects of my life that provided so many opportunities that shaped who I am today. But, as you can imagine, as a teenager, I was just trying to keep my head above water.

 

            Part of my experiences growing up were the unfortunate events of having two parents, in two separate households who were alcohol dependent and a brother, 18 months younger, exploring and getting into drugs and alcohol as well. This was not a very exciting opportunity in my opinion. But, the opportunity that I did get from those unfortunate events were several extra hours at school with a mentor and teacher who provided me with plenty of learning experiences. He was a role model for me and showed me how life could actually be. Now, my home life was not violent and at the end of the day, their alcohol dependency was not so overbearing that it affected me 24/7 but it was close. As a teenager, I certainly took note, and made some choices early on that I was not going to ever take the opportunities that drugs and alcohol would have to offer me. I often prayed for my parents and my brother that they would see the light of Christ as I did, and would make some choice to seize other healthier opportunities.

 

            To this day, I know my time at my father’s house is going to be limited and I always time it to leave before he gets too far into the bottle. But, I continued to pray for them. When my son Owen was born, I had some hard choices to make, as my mother, who should have been my best friend, was still into the bottle herself and was making it very difficult to want to have my child around her. On one particular day, the usual chain of events had taken place, but this time I had had enough. I knew I had to kick start my prayers and use the strength that God had given me to create the opportunity for my mom to change! After driving her home, I tossed her the keys to her car at her front door and clearly stated what I needed from her. I continued to tell her what I needed and set my boundaries. I wanted to see her take the opportunity that she needed to answer my prayers for Health for her, Family for us and Relationships with each other.

            Finally, she did it. She has been sober for six and a half years and it has been the best 6 years of our lives.

 

            So, even though we pray and pass along our convictions to God, we are not going to be handed our answers on a silver platter. We need to use the divine nudges of opportunity to answer those prayers. It took me over twenty years to get an answer, a solution and a positive outcome for my mother’s health and our relationship. Now we are best friends, going on many adventures together and are two years into a successful YouTube Channel called DanCyn’ Adventures.

 

            So, what is it you are really looking for? If you are praying for better health, what are you doing about it? Are you researching better food options and making better food choices for yourself? Are you exercising and bringing movement into your life? There is a vast array of podcasts and other easily accessible materials out there to help with this!

 

            If you are praying for your family to get closer together, then get off the cell phones and the screens. Stop texting and emailing and video chatting with the family. Set up regular gatherings with each other. Large or small scale opportunities to reset the human connection. When was the last time you actually went out for a cup of coffee at a coffee shop with a group of friends? I know for people of my generation, this is not a thing. Many of us would not even know where to start with this type of opportunity, but you bet there are options out there for the varying generations to reconnect and build relationship.

 

            If you are praying for Money, are you looking at your budget, your spending, your income and your lifestyle? Do you really need everything that you have? We live in a world with excessive abundance. Our dressers and closets are overflowing, our basements are stocked floor to ceiling, we have storage units filled to the brim with stuff that we could probably not even identify or remember owning. How many times do you find a box of something you forgot about and when you open it you realize not once did you ever think to yourself “where in the world did I put that?”

 

            If you are praying for Healing, what is your mindset? Are you just hoping for a miracle or are you engaging in mindfulness and mindful activities that will enrich the soul and enrich the cells of your body. Your body is made up of mostly water and did you know that water not only has memory but it has reactionary chemical agents. If you yell angry things at a glass of water the energy crystals will change to mimic the anger and if you speak lovingly and compassionately towards it the crystals will change to be beautiful patterns. It is a study you can look up if you are interested in learning more about it. So speak lovingly to your body. Meditation and mindfulness practices help to re-engage the body and has tremendous healing effects.

 

            Lastly, if you are praying for answers when you don’t know what to do, are you actually listening for the response? Are you looking to the people who suddenly show up in your lives? Are you embracing things outside of your comfort zone that just might put you in the right place at the right time to be able to do the right thing? Or are you sending up your prayer but then moving on and pretending like the request never happened?

 

            We are all unique individuals, with unique interests and unique talents and gifts. Our spirits are screaming to be set free to explore the world of opportunities that are out there. Are you willing to let it out? Or do you want to continue to lock it in a cage, push it down and suppress it to try to be the person that you think you should be for everyone else? Opportunities are the pathways to be you. Opportunities are the reason for existence and they are only one of the many gifts that God bestowed upon us, even back in the beginning.

 

            Noah was listening. Noah heard and understood. Noah stood up and followed through with the opportunities that were presented to him without question. Without fear of reprisal or judgement. And as a result, he was rewarded in so many ways. So, when I think of PUSH, Pray Until Something Happens, I don’t think about the prayers anymore I think about the opportunities. This is your time, to join in with the club. Which opportunities are you going to take?

 

Amen.

 

        

       

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