He Who Signs Prays Twice

Reflections by Maxie Dunnam

Woman singing and playing guitar

We hear it often, especially from the “music community, ”He who sings, prays twice. Saint Augustine added a word to that expression;, “he who sings his prayers prays twice. 

My wife and I share a morning time of devotion and prayer, in which we often sing. A few weeks ago, I was going through a season of studying, teaching, and writing about revival. One morning, during our devotion/prayer time, we were singing the old gospel song, Revive us again. As we sang, it struck me, We are praying. 

The first three stanzas of the hymn are expressions of praise, then the fourth stanza is an earnest petition, 

man hearing music

Revive us again, 
fill each heart with thy love 
May each soul be rekindled 
with fire from above. 

The chorus is praise and petition combined,

Hal-le-lu-jah! Thine the glo-ry.
Hal-le-lu-jah! A-men.
Hal-le-lu-jah! Thine the glo-ry.
Re-vive us a-gain.

I believe we are experiencing revival, and we may be just at the beginning edge of it. I urge you, now and then, sing Revive Us Again as your prayer for it. 

The singing of our sacred hymns, written by the servants of God, has a powerful effect in converting people to the principles of the Gospel, and in promoting peace and spiritual growth.” 

— Heber J. Grant 

-Maxie Dunnam  

Never Say “There’s Nothing I Can Do”. 

Reflections by Maxie Dunnam

grandmothers sitting outside

Prayer means that no one of us can ever say, ‘There is nothing I can do.’” 

I first went to the Soviet Union in 1981 and came away frustrated and confused. I experienced pain to see beautiful churches turned into warehouses, factories, and communist meeting halls. For a long time after that, the picture I had of the Russian church was old women, clad in heavy sweaters and coats, sitting in the dark corners of the churches we visited, sometimes dusting the furniture, or praying before the icons. I kept asking myself, “What can these grandmothers do? How can they keep alive the faith of the church? Where are the young people? 

A few years after that, at the celebration of 1000 years of the church in Russia, when someone asked a Russian priest whether it was healthy for the church to be composed of so many aged mothers, he replied with a story: “In the early days of communism, many churches were blown up and the priests, monks, and nuns were executed. Lenin argued that once the grandmothers died, nobody would remember that there had been a church in Russia. But now, Lenin is long dead, and the church is still full of grandmothers who were children when he was alive.” 

Then he concluded, “As long as the Russian church has its grandmothers, it will survive.” 

I experienced the truth of that dramatically in the Czech Republic in 1991. Freedom had come a short time before. I was in Pilsen at the Maranatha Church. It was one of the most exciting experiences of worship and church life in which I’ve ever participated. The sanctuary of the church had been turned into a lecture hall of the university by the communist regime, but now the government had returned it to the church. Over 500 crowded in. At least 75% of them were younger than thirty—and all of them had become Christians in just the past three or four years. 

That congregation had been kept alive by a few praying people. For over 30 years, eight elderly women gathered each week and prayed—week in and week out. As a result of the faithfulness of those “praying grandmothers,” a dynamic congregation was making a powerful witness. I never witnessed such joy, such hope, such confidence, such powerful dependence upon the Holy Spirit. 

Keep that picture in your mind, remembering the word of that priest: “As long as the Russian church has its praying grandmothers, it will survive.” Add to that picture my assertion, “prayer means that no one of us can ever say, ‘There is nothing I can do.’” We can pray. 

Prayer is one of the greatest works that Christians are given to do. 

-Maxie Dunnam  

The Jesus Prayer

Reflections by Maxie Dunnam

choir singing

We call it “The Jesus Prayer.”Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner”.

It is often continually repeated as a part of personal devotional practice. The prayer is particularly esteemed by many of the spiritual fathers as a method of cleaning and opening up the mind to the presence Christ.

This prayer bears the heart of prayer in the petition, have mercy on me a sinner, and the strength of all prayers in the name, Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God

In my writing and teaching prayer, I often focus on NAMING as a primary dynamic of prayer: we name God as God is in our experience, we name ourselves as we are before God, and we allow God to name us. A new perspective on that has come to me.

Almost every day my wife and have a devotional prayer time together and we often sing as a part of it. Just recently it has “hit me” that the naming dynamic is powerful in our singing as well as our praying. John Newton, the converted slave trader sang about it.

How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds 
In a believer’s ear! 
It soothes his sorrow, heals his wounds, 
And drives away his fear.

It makes the wounded spirit whole, 
And calms the troubled breast; 
‘Tis manna to the hungry soul, 
And to the weary, rest. 

O How I Love Jesus is a “Jesus Name” song that expresses the Gospel clearly and powerfully,

man praying

There is a name I love to hear,
I love to sing its worth;
It sounds like music in mine ear,
The sweetest name on earth!

It tells me of a Savior’s love,
Who died to set me free;

It tells of One whose loving heart
Can feel my deepest woe,

Who in each sorrow bears a part
That none can bear below.

It bids my trembling heart rejoice,
It dries each rising tear,
It tells me in a still, small voice
To trust and never fear. 

With that fresh perspective, let us pray, and let us sing,

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’r!
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
O for grace to trust Him more.

-Maxie Dunnam  

Are You Listening? 

Reflections by Maxie Dunnam

man with hand up to ear

I hear it too often, “Are you listening? 

The speaker wants to be sure I am listening. 

Being with another person we often sense the person is pleading, “Please listen.” 

Nothing enhances our feelings of worth more than being listened to? When you listen to me you say, “I value you. You are important. I will hear and receive what you say.” 

Martin Buber, a great Jewish thinker, spent his life seeking to share with others the importance of the relation between “I and Thou.” For the clue to this meaning he referred to the role of Spirit. “Spirit is not in the I but between the I and Thou.” The Spirit is known in relationship – Buber would say only in relationship. 

When we really listen to a person, listen with ears and heart that hear, it becomes revelation, and the Spirit comes alive in the relationship. 

Perhaps not only, but certainly in relationship is the primary mode and place of revelation of Spirit. So when I listen, the gap between me and the person to whom I listen is bridged. A sensitivity comes that is not my own. I feel the pain, the frustrations, the anguish— sometimes feeling these, and identifying a problem even when the other is not actually sharing the problem or the feelings. I listen in love and the miracle of I/Thou takes place. The sharing moves to the deep and intimate levels where the person and I really live. The Spirit opens doors hearts effecting change. 

The miraculous thing is that I do not have to have an answer for the person with whom I am sharing. In my listening I become the answer. If something specific is needed the Spirit reveals the “answer” in the listening relationship. 

Are you listening? 

When two people relate to each other authentically and humanly, God is the electricity that surges between them.”

– Martin Buber

-Maxie Dunnam  

How Are YOU Praying the Lord’s Prayer?

Reflections by Maxie Dunnam

altar of candles

In the Christian tradition most of us know, and can enter into praying what has come to be known as “The Lord’s Prayer.” It is really our prayer. There are two common ways we pray this prayer. Sometimes, we wrestle against God. We receive intimations of something God wants us to do- – and we wrestle against God because we are not sure we want to respond. Or, we come face to face with an issue of God’s justice and holiness – and we resist. We don’t want to do it. 

But there is also another kind of wrestling. It is not wrestling against God; it’s a matter of wrestling with God against that which opposes God’s will. It really becomes a matter of spiritual warfare. We sense that there are forces within our world which are opposed to God’s will: sickness, hate, meanness, narrowness of spirit, fear, lethargy, prejudice, and ill will. I speak of our warfare against the forces of darkness – we wrestle against Satan himself. We set ourselves against all such forces and to them we cry, “God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” 

The whole issue is abandonment. Sometimes when we pray, “Thy will be done,” it is a declaration of submission in which we confess that we do not know what is best but we want God’s will. We struggle, we wrestle, we stay in the presence of the Lord until our hearts are made tender, and we’re ready to trust God and surrender our will to Him. 

My favorite story about Lourdes, the world known healing place, has to do with an old priest at that famous healing center who was asked by a newspaper reporter to describe the most impressive miracle he’d ever seen there. The reporter expected him to talk about the amazing recovery of someone who had come to Lourdes ill and walked away well. “Not at all,” the old priest said, “if you want to know the greatest miracle that I have ever seen at Lourdes, it is the look of radiant resignation on the face of those who turn away unhealed!” That’s abandonment! — thy will be done as a declaration of submission, confessing that all we want is God’s will – because we know that it is best for us. 

So, let us pray, Our Father…… 

-Maxie Dunnam  

Being Kin to God

boy selling newspapers

Reflections by Maxie Dunnam

As persons created by ‘God in His image we are Children of God. Can you think of a better name to be called? Child of God.

Scripture notes over and over again how important that is. God notes even the fall of sparrows, and we are more important than a sparrow. What a powerful way He put it, “Even the hairs on your head are all counted.” 

We don’t have to worry if we know that we are important to God. Nor do we ever have to prove to others that we are worthy of their love.

When we truly live up to the glorious title we bear, children of God, the image of God can readily be seen in us. Years ago I heard a story that dramatically confirms this. A minister’s wife noticed a small boy selling newspapers.

He stood in his bare feet over the grating of a hot air vent outside a bakery to stay warm. Moved by pity, she asked him, “Where are your shoes? He replied, “Lady, Iain’t got no shoes.” She took him to a department store and bought him new socks and shoes.


The lad ran off without a word of thanks, and at first, she was a bit disappointed. Suddenly he burst back into the store and exclaimed, “Lady, I forgot to thank you for these socks and shoes, and I do thank you. But, lady, I wanna ask you a question. Are you God’s wife?” Taken aback, she stammered, “Why–ah-no I’m just one of his children.” The boy replied, “Well, I knowed you must be some kin to him.” 

Whenever we Christians project an image of God as he was revealed in Jesus Christ others recognize our kinship with Him. I can’t think of a better way to be named, Children of God.

-Maxie Dunnam  

We Need Less Self-Centeredness and More Self-Love

Reflections by Maxie Dunnam

Do you remember Narcissus, the character from Greek mythology? Narcissus was a youth who was gazing at his reflection in a well one day. The more he stared, the more enamored of himself he became. He fell in love with himself, forgot about everything else, tumbled into the water and drowned.

I maintain that was not self love – certainly not in the healthy sense of that word. It was self-centeredness, and that is always destructive. We could all do with less self-centeredness. Life will never work very well on that basis. The world was created to function in a God-centered way and nothing will work out very well until we understand that and cooperate with that. 

One day Lady Astor said to Winston Churchill, “Mr. Churchill, if I were your wife I’d poison your tea.” He replied, “Madam, if I were your husband, I should drink it.”

There are always people around who will bring us down to size. What we need is to be brought up to size. That’s what Jesus is seeking to do… to bring us up to size. Can you believe it? God notes even the fall of sparrows, and we are more important than a sparrow. What a powerful way He put it “Even the hairs on your head are all counted?”

We don’t have to worry if we know that we are important to God.

-Maxie Dunnam  

Finish Thy New Creation

Reflections by Maxie Dunnam

It is obvious to us. Hardly a week passes that we aren’t reminded of death. If you have not done so, you need to think about, plan and talk to your family about your funeral. Jerry and I have been doing that, meeting with a funeral home and talking to our children. 

We have decided on some of the content of our funeral worship services. I am requesting that Charles Wesley’s, Love Divine, All Loves Excelling, be one of the hymns sung. The final stanza expresses my prayer for my life with God now and in eternity. 

Finish, then, thy new creation; 
pure and spotless let us be. 
Let us see thy great salvation 
perfectly restored in thee. 
Changed from glory into glory, 
till in heav’n we take our place, 
till we cast our crowns before thee, 
lost in wonder, love and praise. 

During this Easter season we need to spend time thinking about the resurrection and eternal life. Paul gave powerful witness to it. “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer lives, Christ lives in me.” (Gal. 2:20) To be a Christian is to change. It is to become new. It is not simply a matter of choosing a new lifestyle, though there is a new style. It has to do with being a new person. The new person does not emerge full-blown. Conversion, passing from death to life, may be the miracle of a moment, but being Christ’s new person is the task of a lifetime. 

We who are a part of the Wesleyan/Methodist tradition talk about this in terms of going on to salvation. The fullness of salvation comes in the resurrection as our new life continues with the Father. Read again the stanza from my “funeral hymn;” you may want to make that your prayer as I have made it mine.

Happy Easter!

-Maxie Dunnam  

Practice Being God.

Reflections by Maxie Dunnam

Clement of Alexandria, one of the early church fathers, said all Christians should “practice being God.” When I first read that, it shocked me. Me? Practice being God? But the more I thought about it, the more gripping the idea became. Practice being God.

Don’t close your mind, thinking this is irreverent. Ponder for a moment. Paul was talking about this in his word about reconciliation? “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:18)

Do you see it? Paul said first, God reconciled us to himself… that’s what God does. Then…what are we to do? He has called us to do the same. Isn’t He talking about practicing being God?

Come at it in a slightly different way. When are we most like God? We are most like God when we are most like Christ. What is the first thought that comes to your mind when you consider being like Christ? By far, most of us would have love in our response to that question the question.

Paul said it well: “For the love of Christ controls us, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore, all have died. And He died for all, that those who live might live no longer for themselves but for Him who for their sake died and was raised.”(2 Cor. 5:14-15) What an encompassing statement! That means that since He has died for all, He has died for each. Christ loves like that, and we are to love as he loved. 

Whether we like the language, practice being God, or not, at the core of the Christian faith is loving. At the core of loving is forgiving. Forgiveness, then, is high on any list of Christian practice. As though as it may be, we can all forgive. Go from there and ponder other ways you can practice being God

-Maxie Dunnam  

Childish or Childlike

Reflections by Maxie Dunnam

With many of you here at Kirby I’ve had fear that someday people, talking behind my back, would accuse me of being childish. The dictionary defines childish as having “immaturity and lack of poise.“ As an 88 year old, I certainly didn’t want to appear “immature.” And goodness knows, I have privately considered myself as having poise. 

Being a “person of the Book,” I remember that, when he became an ardent follower of Jesus, Paul said, I put away childish ways. However, I was forced into putting that in sharper perspective when I remembered Jesus’ word: “Let the little children come to me, for to such belongs the Kingdom of heaven.” 

I’ve had to conclude that there is a difference between childish and childlike… Rather than having “immaturity and lack of poise” as the dictionary defines childish ,“ childlike is “marked by innocence, trust, and simplicity.” 

No wonder I like Eric Marshall and Stuart Hamphill’s Children’s Letters to God. One little boy prayed, “Dear God, I’m sorry I was late for Sunday School, I couldn’t find my underwear.” And another little boy prayed, “Dear God, please tell me where everybody came from, and I hope you explain it better than my daddy did.” Children are open and alive. They have a perception that we adults seem to have lost. Best of all they have the capacity of what I call living lightly. They’re not burdened down by preconception. Their lives are not predetermined by force of habit. They’re not closed to others because of sour experiences. They don’t keep grudges. 

So for God’s sake, and for our community’s sake, let’s not be childish. Let’s pray and work hard at being childlike

-Maxie Dunnam