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by davesandel on March 13th, 2012

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

                        Tuesday of the Third Week of Lent

Daniel 3:40-42 *

Azariah (Abednego) stood in the heart of Nebuchadnezzar’s fire and prayed aloud.  “Let our sacrifice be in your presence today as we follow you without reserve.  Those who trust in you cannot be put to shame.  Now we follow you with our whole heart, we fear you and we pray to you.  Do not let us be put to shame, but deal with us in your kindness and great mercy.”

With his parents, Anthony Bloom fled the violence of the Russian Revolution, riding across mountains to a barge floating on the Tigris and Euphrates, finally landing in a small boat going to India, but then ending up in Gibraltar.  Their luggage went to Southampton, and they retrieved it fourteen years later.

Finally in Paris with his family, this young man wondered what was the purpose of life and decided to commit suicide after giving “meaning” a year to show itself.  He became angry at a priest who spoke to his Russian youth organization and angrily began to read the gospel of Mark.  Before he reached chapter three, Jesus made himself known to young Mr. Bloom.  “This certainty has never left me … History I had to believe, the Resurrection I knew for a fact.”

While in England serving as both archbishop and priest for a local Orthodox parish, Mr. Bloom wrote six books on prayer.  In Beginning to Pray, he writes of the benevolent absence of God: “To meet God face to face in prayer is a critical moment in our lives, and thanks be to Him that He does not always present Himself to us when we wish to meet Him, because we might not be able to endure such a meeting.”

He continues, “Let us think of our prayers, yours and mine.  Think of the warmth, the depth and intensity of your prayer when it concerns someone you love or something which matters to your life.  Then your heart is open, all your inner self is recollected in the prayer.  Does it mean that God matters to you?  No, it does not.  It simply means that the subject matter of your prayer matters to you … when you turn to the next item, which does not matter so much – if you suddenly grow cold, what has changed?  Has God grown cold?  Has He gone? …

“In order to be able to pray, we must be within the situation which is defined as the kingdom of God.  We must recognise that He is God, that He is King, we must surrender to Him.  We must at least be concerned with His will, even if we are not yet capable of fulfilling it … So often what we would like to have through prayer, through the deep relationship with God which we long for, is simply another period of happiness; we are not prepared to sell what we have in order to buy the pearl of great price … God is not prepared to be simply part of our life.”

Before they were thrown into the fire Abednego famously said, “Our God will save us.  But even if he does NOT, then you must know, Majesty, that we will not serve your god.”  The prayer from within the fire might have been accompanied by cries of pain, but it was really the same prayer he has always prayed.  “You are good, oh Lord.  Your mercy endures forever.”

So, Lord, I will show up and surrender every day.  You define what You have for me.  I receive it all.  Make me worthy of your gifts, even in my unworthiness.  Make my weakness and your strength a joy and delight to me, Lord.  Free me from any need; I am your child and You provide me with all I need.

 * The modern Protestant Bible does not include verses 24-90 of Daniel 3.  They are included in the Catholic bible (  These verses are called “deuterocanonical” by Catholics, “anagignoskomena” by the Orthodox, and “apocrypha,” meaning “hidden” by Protestants.  The story of these “hidden” books is very interesting:

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