Family Notes 09/12/2015



gracEmail subscriber Roger Harper, who happens to be a priest in the Church of England, proposes using as a conversion prayer the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples to pray, and he explains as follows:

May I suggest an alternative prayer for beginning the Christian life? ‘Our Father, in heaven, hallowed be . . .’ Jesus commanded us to pray using the ‘Our Father . . .’ words. He introduced it with an imperative. Jesus commanded us to teach disciples to obey all that He commanded. We are to teach them to pray ‘Our Father . . .’ How about beginning with that prayer rather than beginning with something else and then moving onto that prayer?

When someone wants to begin the Christian life we teach them what this prayer means for them: God, I want you to be my Father in heaven, just as you always were Jesus’ Father in heaven. I believe you are good and I want people to think well of you.

Father in heaven, You want me to become your child, to live as your child. May your will be done in my life. Send me your Spirit, your power, to become your child. I renounce living my way. I want to live your way, as your child. (This is a prayer with huge ramifications . . .)

Father in heaven, give me what I need, give those on my heart what they need. Thank you for beginning to answer my prayer. Please, today, give us . . .

Father in heaven, forgive me. Forgive me for ignoring you, for turning away from you. Forgive me for ignoring my sin, for turning away from my sin. Forgive me for . . . I ask only because Jesus died for our sins, for my sins. I will live from now on asking for your forgiveness as soon as I see I have got it wrong again.

Father in heaven I choose to forgive others too. Forgive… for… I will live from now on passing on your forgiveness to others. Father in heaven, please lead me. From now on I want to be led. Lead me away from all the messes I can get myself into.

Father in heaven, please protect me. Take out the evil that has lodged in me. Take away the temptation that dogs me. Keep me pure and safe. Thank you, Abba Father!

I have led a few people to pray like this and they have felt changed, and, I think, have carried on in the same vein. They learn to keep praying the ‘Our Father’ prayer, adding their own words according to each heading. C. S. Lewis called this ‘festooning’ the prayer, hanging our words on each ‘peg.’ Maybe it’s a little longer than the Evangelical Sinner’s Prayer, but I think it’s understandable enough and makes a good beginning.


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Life’s Too Short to Miss the Big Picture (for Moms). Melanie Simpson. I have often described Melanie’s writing as “Erma Bombeck with a Bible behind her back.” You cry with one paragraph and laugh aloud with the next. Laura Starnes Norman describes these “simple stories of family, friends, turbulence, and whimsy” as “a collection of mother-wise tales.” Order from publisher at toll-free 877-816-4455 or other bookseller.

Fourscore Years and Counting: My Life in Seven Chapters. Sybil B.F. Dewhirst. The fascinating memoirs of a little girl born and raised in the wilds of Africa, whose courage, imagination, and faith in God see her through “seven lives” as an artist, author, businesswoman, teacher, carpenter, landscaper and matriarch. Order from publisher at toll-free 800-839-8640 or other bookseller.

And I must mention A Consuming Passion: Essays on Hell and Immortality In Honor of Edward Fudge. Released only weeks ago, this book of 430 pages contains 22 chapters by as many contributors in seven countries around the world. The essays are in five groups by field or discipline–the recipient’s legacy, theology and philosophy, exegesis, history and polemics, the road ahead. For full details and ordering info, go to: