Prayer: Waves or Ripples?


I remember some time ago listening to (or maybe reading) a sermon about prayer. Although my prayer life isn’t always as robust as I feel it should be, I’ve always been a strong believer in its power. So any advice I could get on how to improve my prayer life would be welcome.

The sermon described the typical prayer as resembling the result of dropping a rock into a lake. It begins in the center and then ripples out farther and farther in increasingly larger concentric rings. This is what happens when we pray for ourselves first, then move out to those close to us—friends and family—then on to our local church and community, our state and country, and finally on to the world at large. He pointed out the selfish nature of these types of prayers.

He had my attention at that point. My philosophy of prayer had been to pray for myself first. (I need it most and I’m acutely aware of the areas in my life needing prayer.) I had never thought of it as selfish.

I went on for several months attempting to utilize my new prayer model and trying to overcome the guilt I felt for years of doing it the “wrong” way.

Then it occurred to me to compare his prayer model with the ultimate model of prayer—the one given to us by Jesus himself: The Lord’s Prayer. The one we have all memorized, maybe in more than one language, and have heard it sung and recited countless number of times.

But I hadn’t really sat down to analyze its structure. I’m an English major. I’m in the habit of analyzing what I read. But sometimes the things that are the most familiar to us we just gloss over, saying the words but missing the meaning.

Here’s what I learned. It’s in Matthew 6:9-13 if you want to follow along.

Our Father . . . – the beginning addresses God, to whom we’re praying

your kingdom come . . . – here we’re asking for the success of His kingdom. I see this as acknowledging his lordship and his supremacy over the world.

Introduction out of the way, we begin the supplication portion.

“Give us this day our daily bread.”  Wait a minute. I thought we were supposed to be praying for others first. We don’t get to our relationship with others until the forgiving our debtors part.

Now confused, I decided to turn to the last recorded prayer of Jesus. He had given his final message of comfort to the apostles and was now in the Garden of Gethsemane praying for strength for the ultimate sacrifice he faced the following day. Found in John 17:1-26 (the entire chapter).

He begins, predictably, by addressing his father (v. 1).Then he says something surprising. “Glorify your Son.” He spends the next five verses summarizing his own mission and the role “glory” and “authority” played in that mission.

Only in verse six does he begin to pray for his disciples. Through verse 19 he pleads for their safety and sanctification. Finally, in verse 20, he extends his concern to the entire world.


So there it is. Two perfect patterns for prayer:

Concentric circles. Ripples. Definitely ripples.

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Diplomats, Warriors, and Queen Mothers: Old Testament Women Lead the Way


Some of the most influential women in history can be found in the pages of the Bible. You’re probably familiar with the stories of Esther and Ruth–after all, they have entire Old Testament books written about them. But they aren’t the only women who impacted their world. Some were in positions of great power. Others are not even mentioned by name, but these women made a life-altering contribution to the world around them.

Learn the stories of these women and be inspired to be the best you can be within your own circle of influence. Whether you’re in a position of leadership or toiling quietly behind the scenes, take courage from these women who saw a need and filled it.

Examine these women’s stories from a woman’s viewpoint. The Bible may have been written by men, taught by men, and preached by men, but the women have always been there, shaping the stories that have become a part of our heritage.


Where would Moses have been without his mother and sister? Without the midwives? Without the Egyptian princess?

Study these stories and more. Available soon for the first time as  an online Bible study. Comment below if you’d be interested in joining us.

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Wall Building 101


The Jerusalem that Nehemiah remembered

Nehemiah has always been one of my favorite books of the Old Testament. It demonstrates the power we have at our disposal if we will listen to God’s plans, pray to become a part of them, and wait on His power to achieve the seemingly impossible. In Nehemiah’s case, that meant rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem.

I’m in the process of some serious wall building myself—the kinds of walls you build with domains and SEO. Images and PowerPoint presentations. Autoresponders and voice overs. None of these are areas in which I have any degree of skill.

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A Study of Bible Women

I have long been intrigued by the stories of women in the Bible. Many times I have been confused by the discrepancies between what the Bible says and what I have heard from the pulpit. I finally figured it out: Preachers are usually male. They can’t be expected to relate the stories from a woman’s point of view. 

Inspired by that insight, I began an in-depth study of my own. In reading through my Bible, I began to highlight all verses related to women in yellow. (When I was able to read La Biblia in Spanish, I uncovered many more passages that weren’t evident in many of the gender-neutral English words.)

I continued this study over a number of years. It became a series of lessons on Old Testament women. I taught it in a draft to the ladies group in my church in Arizona. Eventually, I hope it becomes a book. In the meantime, I’m taking it through another revision on this blog. I’ll be putting out new lessons about every two weeks.

Anyone is welcome to take part. There is no charge, but I would like to encourage comments and interaction to include in my next revision. All I ask is that you contact me so I know you are a real person, and I will give you a password. 

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The World, the Flesh, and . . . eBay?

I was putting together my lesson notes for a women’s Bible study group some time ago. In order to illustrate my point, I was looking for the Scriptural reference to the phrase “the world, the flesh, and the devil.” I wasn’t sure if it came directly from the Bible, or whether it was a doctrinal tenet that church fathers had decided on centuries (or decades) ago.

Turning to my faithful search engine, I typed in the phrase–in quotation marks so I could get a more accurate hit. As I scrolled down the list of results, I did a double take when I read one entry:

The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. Available now on eBay!

I’m not sure whether that’s more of a commentary on the power of the internet—or on the state of our society today.

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I’ve finally done it!

I’ve been planning this site for years. Now it’s finally a reality.

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A Chaplin by any other name

I’ve always had trouble with my name. I’ve been known as Janet, Janett, Jeannette, Yanet . . . well, you get the picture. Same thing with my last name: Chapman, Chaplain, Champlain, and so on. Continue reading

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